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Lucian Rosca
A Thesis
Submitted to the
Graduate Faculty
George Mason University
in Partial Fulfillment of
The Requirements for the Degree
Master of Arts



Department Chairperson


Dean, College of Humanities

and Social Sciences

Date: _____________________________________

Fall Semester 2015

George Mason University,
Fairfax, VA

The Remaking of the Dacian Identity in Romania and the Romanian Diaspora
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts at George Mason University


Lucian I. Rosca
Bachelor of Arts
George Mason University, 2015

Director: Patricia Masters, Professor

Department of Sociology

Fall Semester 2015

George Mason University
Fairfax, VA


I would like to thank my thesis coordinators: Professor Patricia Masters, Professor Dae
Young Kim, Professor Lester Kurtz, and my wife Paula, who were of invaluable help. Finally, thanks go out to the Fenwick Library for providing a clean, quiet, and wellequipped repository in which to work.



List of Tables................................................................................................................... v
List of Figures ................................................................................................................ vi
Abstract .........................................................................................................................vii
1. Introduction ................................................................................................................. 1
1.1. The Roman Conquest of Dacia.................................................................................. 2
2. Background ................................................................................................................. 5
2.1. A Historical Perspective ............................................................................................ 5
2.1.1. Figures ................................................................................................................... 5
2.2 Language and Identity Continuity ............................................................................ 13
2.3. A Revisionist Perspective ....................................................................................... 14
3. Literature Review ...................................................................................................... 15
3.1. Resurgence or Emergence of a New Identity ........................................................... 15
3.2. The Functionalist Perspective ................................................................................. 15
3.3. Symbolic Interactionism and Identity Reconstruction .............................................. 16
3.4. Conflict Theory Perspectives .................................................................................. 27
3.5. Postmodernism: The Discourse on Historical Truth ................................................ 30
3.6. The Memory and the Relationship to Identity.......................................................... 31
4. The Research Problem ............................................................................................... 37
5. The Research Question .............................................................................................. 39
6. Methods..................................................................................................................... 40
6.1. Data ........................................................................................................................ 43
7. Findings and Limitations ........................................................................................... 43
8. Tables ........................................................................................................................ 45
9. Findings ..................................................................................................................... 50
9.1. A Historical Perspective .......................................................................................... 50


9.1.1. The Origins of the Dacians. A new turn to the perspectives offered in my interviews ............................................................................................................................. 50
9.2 A New Historical Perspective .................................................................................. 51
9.3. History of Art Perspective ....................................................................................... 53
9.4. The Dacian Language ............................................................................................. 55
9.5. The Latinization of the Romanian Culture and Language ........................................ 58
9.6. The Dacian Roots of the Romanian Traditions ........................................................ 59
9.7. Celebration of Dacian Traditions Today: Calusarii, Sumedru and Junii Brasovului . 62
9.8. Ancient Customs and Identity Reconstruction ......................................................... 65
9.9. The Connection between Generations ..................................................................... 70
9.10. Traditions and Modernity ...................................................................................... 72
9.11. Memory and Dacian Identity ................................................................................. 73
9.12. The Identity Revival ............................................................................................. 76
9.12.1. The Origins of the Revival ........................................................................................ 76
9.13. Obscuring and Replacing Identities ....................................................................... 77
9.14. Dacian Revival ..................................................................................................... 78
9.15. The Idealized Homeland ....................................................................................... 82
9.16. Education and Identity Revival ............................................................................. 83
9.17. The Romanians, the Moldavians and the Diaspora ................................................ 85
9.17.1. Moldavian versus Romanian .............................................................................. 85
9.18. Diaspora versus Homeland .................................................................................... 94
9.19. The New Romanian Identity versus the Old Romanian Identity............................. 95
9.19.1. Communism and Freedom ................................................................................. 95
10. Conclusion and Discussion ...................................................................................... 98
11. Limitations ............................................................................................................ 101
Appendix 1. Informed Consent .................................................................................... 105
Appendix 2 .Interview Questions ................................................................................. 107
Appendix 3. Focus Group Questions ............................................................................ 110
References ................................................................................................................... 116



8. Tables. Interviewees and Backgrounds.....45


2.1.1. Figure1. Dacia in 50 BC......6

2.1.1. Figure2. Dacia Province and the Free Dacians....7
2.1.1. Figure3. Contemporary Romania.....8




Lucian I. Rosca, M.A.
George Mason University, 2015
Thesis Director: Professor Dr. Patricia Masters

This study reflects my interests in the actual status of the ethnic identity in Romania,
starting from the Romanian identity as the general frame and verifying the existence of
the Dacian sub-identity as one of its particular frames. Dacia was located approximately
on the actual Romanian territory, including parts of Ukraine, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary
and the Republic of Moldavia. Dacians are considered the ancestor of the Romanian
people along with the Romans who actually conquered part of Dacia during the Trajan
war between the years 105-106 A.D.
This qualitative study will analyze the interviews as well as recent books,
newspaper and magazine articles, blogs and posts related to the Dacian and Romanian
history, to its interpretations and to the Dacian identity or sub-identity. There will be three
main groups of interviewees: Romanians, Moldavians and individuals from the diaspora
that belong to the other two groups.



The Roman victory over the Dacians in the second century A.D. created a mixture
of populations, cultures, languages, and traditions that evolved over the centuries into the
modern identity of the Romanian people.
My interest in ethnic identity started years ago when I first realized the research
potential of this concept, the impact of the social and political interests that shape
identity, and the continuous development and transformation of identity over long periods
of time. I was born in Romania, and learned in school that the Romanian people were
formed after the conquest of Dacia, the actual Romania, by the Roman Empire. The
Roman sub-identity was considered superior to the Dacian sub-identity because the
dominant historians viewed the Romans as more politically, socially, and economically
advanced. Furthermore, the Roman sub-identity created a connection with the Western
Europe and the Romance speaking countries, providing moral and cultural support during
the Middle Ages and later because the Romanian territories were surrounded and attacked
by populations with different origins, identities, and languages belonging to different
language families: Slavs, Austrian-Hungarians, and the Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless,
at least one of the two sub-identities was continuously present in the Romanian culture
and its collective consciousness.

In the 1870's, during the Romanian identity revival, a theory called Protochronism
developed in the three Romanian Principates and gained some strength between the two
cold wars generating some controversies. That theory asserts that: (1) Dacian culture,
language and civilization are some of the oldest in Europe (this is one of the reasons it
was labeled by some researchers as nationalist); and (2) the Dacian language was not lost,
but is the mother language of Latin. However, because the two languages were similar,
historians and researchers believed that Dacian had disappeared.
Although some of the Protochronist assertions have been contested by historians,
significant historical events backed by evidence and documents and recognized by
historians have been either ignored by the Romanian historians and history manuals or
hardly mentioned. These events at least provide evidence that the Dacian identity
survived after the Roman conquest in 106 A.D.

1.1. The Roman Conquest of Dacia

In the Roman conquest of Dacia in 106 A.D., the capital Sarmisegetuza was
captured but not the entire Dacian territory. According to the Dacia Revival International
Society and some historians, during the second Dacian War 105-106 A.D. only 14
percent of the actual territory of Dacia was conquered by the Romans. Although this
estimate may be too small, there are many mentions of other Dacian regions that were not

conquered by the Roman armies, including the Northern part of Transylvania, Moldavia,
Bucovina and Bessarabia. This territory was occupied only until the Aurelian retreat in
275 A.D.; however, during the occupation there were many revolts and attacks by the free
Dacians. Herodotus made an important statement, according to which the Dacians or
Getae-Dacians are a Thracian population and they are not only the noblest as well as the
most just of all the Thracian tribes" (The Histories, 1993:4-93).
Galerius is a Roman emperor of Dacian origin, who ruled from 305 to 311 A.D.
According to Lactantius, in: De Mortibus Persecutorum, in English Of the Manner in
which the Persecutors Died: Long ago, indeed, and at the very time of his obtaining
sovereign power, he had avowed himself the enemy of the Roman name; and he proposed
that the empire should be called, not the Roman, but the Dacian empire. (Chapter 27).
A more recent mention of the Dacians is made by Carolus Lundius in Zamolxis
Primus Getarum Legislator (1687), who wrote that: Under the influence of the ancient
writers claiming the writing having appeared firstly with the Getae, Jornandes
recommends in every conviction the written laws of Zamolxis and Diceneus (1687:56,
chapter 3).
Under the pro-Russian Communist regime which controlled the country from
1945 until December 1989, the Roman and Dacian sub-identities were first diminished
and denied, then later excluded. The Communist government wanted to create a new
Romanian identity, in connection and subordinated to the Soviet identity, based on some
common vocabulary, and on fabricated linguistic and even ethnic origins. In this project

there was no room for a real Romanian history or for the Dacian and Roman cultural and
linguistic heritage. Their interest was determined by the need to control and subordinate
the nations forced to join the Soviet Union; however, that created a quiet resistance to
acculturation and denationalization. The Roman and Dacian sub-identities were partially
revived by this resistance and by the desire of the last Romanian Communist regime to
promote a distinct identity to oppose the declining Russian influence, especially in the
latest period, from 1970 until 1989. At the same time, this sub-identity did not become
part of the official politics in order to not attract the retaliation of the Soviet Union.
Today it appears the Dacian identity is being revived especially within young college
student and Diaspora communities. It is sometimes associated with different movements
who advocate for the political and territorial unity between Romania and Moldavia.
Moldavia is a former Romanian province incorporated into the Soviet Union after the
Second World War and presently it is an independent republic with more than 70% of the
population considered to be ethnically Romanian and Romanian speakers.
Some indicators of the Dacian identity revival are: the interest in reviving the
Dacian lost language; a growing interest in old, pre-Roman Dacian traditions, (one
example is Martisorul, a spring holiday celebrated in all the territories inhabited by
Romanians, even in Albania, Croatia, Ukraine and Greece); and the formation of different
organizations like Dacia Revival and Terra Dacica Aeterna, that promote the Dacian
cultural and linguistic identity between the Dacian language and the actual Romanian

2.1. A Historical Perspective
2.1.1. Figures
The three maps reproduced here will help the reader better understand and
connect the historical data, the geographical information and the main events that might
have influenced the Dacian identity. The first map shows Dacia close to the highest
territorial extent, in 50 BC. The second map shows Roman Dacia and Free Dacia in 125
AC, after the Roman Conquest. The last map shows contemporary Romania and the
Republic of Moldavia.

Figure 1
Dacia in 50 BC at the end of Caesar's Gallic Wars, with the territory of Rome in

Figure 2
Dacia Province and the free Dacians: the Carpi, the Costoboci, and the Buri.
The Roman Empire in 125, after the conquest of some Dacian territory in 106 AC
Dacia Province and the free Dacians: the Carpi, the Costoboci, and the Buri

Figure 3
Contemporary Romania and the Republic of Moldavia in Europe.

The history of Romanians like the history of many other ethnic groups, has many
examples of struggle, of continuous battle for power or for survival with different invaders.
From a neutral perspective, I have to mention that power groups in every state, or political
entities have sought to manipulate the collective memory, the history in order to legitimize
their actions, to show their good intentions and to demonstrate they were not in fact the
first ones to attack.
The formation of the Romanian nation-state is intimately connected with my thesis
subject. The different perspectives point to the causes that determined the formation of the
Romanian identity, and they continue to influence the opinions of many Romanians about
the Dacian identity or sub-identity. There are at least three main historical theories:
The first perspective states that the Romanian nation is the result of the mixture
between Dacians, the old inhabitants of the actual Romania, of the Republic of Moldavia,
and some of the surrounding countries, and the Romans who conquered part of Dacia in
106 A.D. This view is dominant in the academic environment as well as in the Romanian
society and the international academic communities. This perspective is important for my
study as it is taught in most Romanian elementary schools, gymnasiums, high schools and
universities, in Romania, Moldavia, and other territories inhabited by Romanians. It is part
of the identity formation process of young students. Most of the Romanians who have
studied in Romania thus consider the Dacian and the Roman sub-identities as part of the
Romanian identity.

For instance, in the 1997 Istoria Romanilor (The History of the Romanians), a sixth
grade history manual, it states that the Romanian population derive their ethnic origins
from the Dacians and Romans that followed the second Roman invasion in Dacia in 106
A.D. The manual mentions that not all the territories inhabited by the Dacians were
conquered by the Romans, but it does not specify what that proportion is. It simply
mentions the actual Romanian provinces that were not occupied by the Romans, which
make more than 50% of the actual Romania: Moldova, Bucovina, Maramures, Crisana,
and Muntenia. It also states that today, there are only a few Dacians words left in the
Romanian vocabulary and the Dacian language has disappeared, because the colonized
Dacians and the free Dacians adopted the Roman language. Almas wrote that
The Dacians have learned the Latin language as well as the Romans settlers in
Dacia borrowed many of the Dacian traditions and living style. Also, the other
Dacians (from Muntenia, Moldova, Bucovina, Maramures, Crisana), who were free
and maintained their living style, have received, nevertheless, much of the Roman
civilization (1997:15, my translation).
Similarly in Istoria Romaniei, (The History of Romania), (Barbulescu, et al. 1998), the
same explanation about the formation of the Romanian people is developed, using more
academic methodology, resources, and evidence. The school textbooks from the
Communist age make similar statements to the ones mentioned above: at the moment
when the Romans left Dacia, the province was inhabited by a population strongly, for once
and for all Romanized. (Daicoviciu, et al. 1984:67 my translation).
The second explanation states that after the retreat of the Roman army and
administration from the Roman Dacia, the entire population left this territory and the
Hungarian nation established in an empty Transylvania or in a Transylvania inhabited by


Slavs. This perspective is only embraced by certain Hungarian officials and by some of the
Hungarian minority ethnic groups who live in Transylvania and who have looked for
justifications for their long occupation of Transylvania during the Austrian-Hungarian
Empire while currently asking for territorial autonomy for the Hungarian minority in
Romania. For example, in Nations in Transition. Hungary, Hill states that:
Magyar territories included all of Slovakia, a sliver of northeastern Croatia, part of
Northern Serbia, part of what is today Ukraine, and Transylvania, now part of
Romania. The wealthiest Magyars in these regions had large landholdings. Slavs
formed the core of slave labor on these holdings (2004:21).
According to the text, the core of the slave population in these areas, including
Transylvania was Slavic, and there is no mention of Romanian or Dacian ethnics.
The third explanation, a new revisionist history, adopted and supported by some
contemporary Romanian historians like Napoleon Savescu in Noi nu Suntem Urmasii
Romei (1999), and Daniel Roxin (2013) in Spiritul Dacic Renaste states that the actual
Romanian nation is made of Dacians, because the Romans only conquered 14% of Dacia
in 106 A.D. Also, they believe the Dacian language is actually the Romanian language
because the Romans could not impose their language in such a short period of occupation
of only 14% of the territory. This theory also states the Dacian and Roman languages are
actually the same language, and this would be explained by the fact that Romania and the
Republic of Moldavia are the only countries speaking a Romance language in Eastern
Europe, while being surrounded by Slavic people and languages and by Hungarians who
speak a Finno-Ugric language. Also, the Romanian language is unitary in the entire
territory inhabited by Romanians while nations like Italy, France, or Spain have many


dialects that make communication almost impossible between the inhabitants of two
different regions, without the use of the literary language (Roxin 2013:29-30).
Nicolae Densusianu was one of the first to promote these ideas at the beginning of
the 20th century, in Prehistorical Dacia (2002). He is one of the first Romanian authors to
mention some of the antique and medieval sources of information, previously ignored,
about the Dacians especially before the Roman Conquest in 106 A.D. According to him,
the Dacians are related to the Romans, both being Thracians or Pelasgians, populations that
inhabited large parts of Europe, the founders of the European civilization:
Behind the populations known in Greco-Roman antiquity under the name of Getae
and Dacians, stretches back a long series of several thousand years, a buried history
of some great events, whose importance had reached far beyond the horizon of this
country, the history of a nation, genius, powerful and glorious, who, long before the
Trojan times, had founded the first vast world empire, had founded the first cultural
unity in Europe, and had at the same time established a basis for the moral and
material progress in western Asia and in north Africa (2002:2).
The Dacian religion and Gods spread across the Europe, the megalithic temples and the
divinities located in Dacia were venerated and represented across a vast area:
The Sky Column from the southeastern corner of the Carpathians, which even today
hides its top into the clouds, had in the most remote times of prehistory, and still
has partly today, the shape of a stunted, four angled pyramid... This column has
been considered in ante-Homeric times as the most sacred religious symbol of the
entire Pelasgian world. It was represented with the same shape on the religious
monuments of Hellada and Egypt, in the statuary art of the Romans, as well as on
various specimens of ceramic paintings of the Greek and Etruscan epochs. The
oldest reproduction of this column is found on the Cyclopes walls which encircled
once the famous acropolis of Mycenae in the Peloponnesus (Densusianu 2002:311).
Similarly, Leonard Velcescu in Les Daces dans la sculpture romaine: etude d'iconographie
antique (2010), explains the meaning of the term barbarian for the Romans and Greeks:


According to Quintilian the features of the Barbarian language were: some letters
were added or removed within the Latin words or some were switched. According
to Isidor from Sevillia . . . . Barbarian words where Latin words corrupted in regard
to the letters or sounds (2002:1057).
For him the Latin and the Dacian language were related and people speaking Latin could
communicate with people speaking Dacian: The Barbarian language had, according to
some authors, the features of the Vulgar or Rustic Latin (2002:1060). This statement is
the basis for the idea of the Dacian language and identity continuity in Romania, later
borrowed or researched by other authors.
The three main historical perspectives mentioned above may have been influenced
by different sociopolitical or economic interests and by the international context at the
moment of their emergence, but they are also the expressions of what some of the
Romanian nationals think about their identity.

2. 2. Language and Identity Continuity

In regard to the idea of Dacian language and identity continuity an article called
Our Brothers From the Alps, published in Formula As magazine (Number 688, 2005), that
mentions an old community of people called Romansi, who live in Engadin, region of
Grison, Switzerland is relevant. According to the article, these people speak a language
similar to Romanian, with many common words and expressions, have many similar
toponyms, for example carp that is actually the root of the word Carpathian, the name of
the main mountain chain in Romania as well as a so called free Dacian tribe name that
hasn't been conquered by the Romans. They also have many similar superstitions, customs,


traditions, and foods. Falera, one of the Romansi Villages in the area has been attested as
dating to 3500 B.C. and according to the locals many of their traditions have been inherited
from their ancestors.

2.3. A revisionist Perspective

From the perspective of History of Art, Leonard Velcescu (2010), was attracted by the
history of his ancestors but also by some aspects that have been little studied before him:
although the Dacians have been defeated by the Romans, it appears they were treated with
respect, they were actually glorified and this didn't happen with any of the people
considered barbarian by the Romans. The proofs for his statements are his comparative
studies of Trajan's Column and many barbarian and especially Dacian statues located
around the world, statues that have been initially placed in Trajan's Forum in Rome after
he conquered a part of Dacia in 106 (Trajan was a Roman emperor between 98 AD and 117
AD). Velcescu (2010) describes the Dacian statues, physiognomic characteristics and their
clothing, very similar with the actual Romanian countrymen in many regards (2010:37).
Unlike the other barbarians, the Dacian statues are completely dressed (2010:37).



3.1. Resurgence or Emergence of a New Identity

The reason why I chose to write about the Dacian identity was a mix between my
interest in the study of ethnic identity, respect for what I have learned about my ancestors,
and the desire to find out why some people seek to forget and change their identity inherited
for many generations. Maybe this study is a different kind of revolt against the same ethnic
identity, trying to reconsider it, to save the best out of it or at least to imagine a better one.
The more I examined this topic, the more I found I knew very little about my ethnic identity
and about the Romanian and Dacian identities. It came to question how many facts I
actually assumed to be true.

3.2. The Functionalist Perspective

Functionalism is a theoretical framework that considers society a complex system

whose component parts function together to promote solidarity and stability. (Macionis
2010:14). This means that all the parts of the society are interconnected and interdependent,
and each has a specific function that is important for the stability of the entire society. For


example, education or medical services that may be paid for by the government to provide
services for the people (this may be different in some countries), and in turn, people pay
taxes helping the government to function. In this case, including more evidence-based
information about the Dacians in the school curriculum may help in building a stronger
Romanian-Dacian identity, which will create a more cohesive society
The way people organize themselves in groups depends on two possibilities
according to Gellner: will, voluntary adherence and identification, loyalty and solidarity
on the one hand and fear, coercion, compulsion on the other (2006:52). Gellner notes that:
It is nationalism which engenders nations, and not the other way round. Admittedly,
nationalism uses the preexisting, historically inherited proliferation of cultures or
cultural wealth, though it uses them very selectively, and it most often transforms
them radically. Dead languages can be revived, traditions invented, quite fictitious
pristine purities restored (Gellner 2006:54).
From this point of view it is necessary to distinguish very clearly between reality
and fiction in regard to the creation of a Dacian sub-identity, but this is not an easy task
when analyzing a different kind of an imagined community, one that existed almost 2,000
years ago and which may be on the point to be re-imagined. From a functionalist
perspective, nationalism has a negative impact on society in general, especially if it
supports extreme tendencies.

3.3. Symbolic Interactionism and Identity Reconstruction


From a symbolic interactionist perspective, the Dacian sub-identity has been reshaped,
rediscovered, adapted to the new geopolitical context, and subordinated to the Romanian
Epstein (2006) states that ethnicity corresponds to the formation of the self and this
process starts early in childhood, being associated with figures of love like parents and
especially grandparents. Epstein uses the example of a Jewish community in Yankee City.
When the first immigrants arrived in the United States, they created a strong social and
religious community in the city, building synagogues and strictly following the traditions.
However, people stopped following the traditions, the children grew and moved to big
cities, the synagogues emptied and it looks like the old community has disintegrated. Thirty
years later, a sudden revival process starts initiated by the young members of the
community. The Jewish identity re-emerges, but it is different from the one of their fathers
and grandfathers. It is more open and it is connected to the American culture and identity.
According to Epstein, their identity was shaped through the opposition with the other
identities surrounding them. For Epstein ethnic identity is always in some degree a
product of the interaction of inner perception and outer response, of forces operating on the
individual and group from within, and those impinging on them from without (2006:101102).

Epstein makes the distinction between: (a) ethnic identity marked by positive poles
which depends more on inner concepts strengths and resources, and (b) ethnic identity
marked by negative poles which depends very little on inner definition (sometimes there is


none) and it is imposed from the outside. His examples are the mischlings and the
hibakusha. The mischlings are the children of the mixed marriage between a Jew and a
Gentile, raised without Christian or Jewish tradition and no emphasis on ethnicity.
Although they may not feel Jewish they are regarded by the American community as Jews.
In this case the identity is imposed, and it has no connection with the individuals concept
of self. The hibakusha carry a stigma, but they can share an exclusive experience to use
in governing their social interactions and in forming their own associations (Epstein
Another interesting idea is the connection between the grandparents and the
grandnephews. The grandparents, not the parents, are establishing the strongest connection
between the generations, they are introducing the past to the children through stories, and
they are living links to the past (Epstein 2006:145). While the relationship between the
parents and the children is one of subordination and dominance, the one between the
grandparents and children is an alliance.
Miri Song in Choosing Ethnic Identity (2003) analyzes the impact of the increasing
number of mixed race people in the Western European countries especially in the United
Kingdom and in United States and the effect of the diversification of the ethnic groups. The
ethnic groups in these countries are constantly negotiating their social, economic, and
political positions:
Claims to ethnic identity are subject to scrutiny by not only the wider society, but
also by ones co-ethnics, and can be met by validation, denial or disbeliefIen Ang
(1994) found that, despite her Chinese heritage, because she did not speak a
Chinese dialect, she was
not regarded as Chinese by the people she
encountered on a trip to the Peoples Republic of China or by many White Dutch


people she encountered in the Netherlands. Not speaking Chinese meant that she
was not considered to be authentically Chinese (Song 2003: 142).
Song also shows that some immigrants chose to opt out of their ethnic group,
denying their group affiliation and heritage; however, in order to completely opt out that
person needs to be accepted in another group ( 2003:56-57).
In New Perspectives on Racial Identity Development: Integrating Emerging
Frameworks, Wijeyesinghe and Jackson make a distinction between identification and
identity: identification results from external assignments or categorization, whereas
identity results from internal processes as the individuals encounter external influences.
This distinction is important because the racial classifications are based on some
differences between physical, psychological, and even linguistic characteristics. Thus, the
codification-and subsequent modification of racial categories results from the interplay
between public policy and the denial or provision of various human and civil rights (2012,
11-2). Some examples are the taxation without representation, the denial of property or of
the right to vote.
Another important concept for the distinction between identification and identity is
cognitive identity, and it refers to how the individual understands his/her own identity
and identity shift in different contexts, finding a balance between external and internal
influences on ones identity (Chudari and Pizzolato 2008: 451).
Another approach to multiple racial identity is proposed in New Perspectives on
Racial Identity Development: Integrating Emerging Frameworks, through The
intersectional Model of Multiracial Identity (Wijeyesinghe 2012:81). This theory
describes many people of mixed race, their identity being holistic and multiply


influenced by different characteristics like sex, age, class, nationality, culture, and
education (2012: 84). The reason this model of identity is appropriate for my study is that
some Romanians have ancestors of different races, and because of the actual immigration
today, there are mixed families with multiracial children.
In The Factor Model of Multiracial Identity Development, Wijeyesinghe asserts
that the racial identity of multiracial individuals is chosen by each individual according to
different factors: culture, education, social and historical context, physical appearance,
spirituality, political orientation, other social identities (1992, 2001:88).
Cornell and Hartmann's (2007) main point is why ethnic identity come and go and
some people attach significance to it and other don't. From this perspective, the Dacian
revival can be interpreted as a primordialist versus circumstantialist versus constructionist
understanding. The question is what determined this revival?
Referring to Hutus and Tutsies, the two ethnic rival populations in Rwanda,
Cornell and Hartmann (2007) identify physical and moral stereotypes they have about each
Tutsis were held to be taller, more fined featured, and lighter skinned; the Hutus
were considered short, stocky and dark" Tutsi were said to be intelligent . . . .
capable of
command, courageous, and cruel. Hutus hardworking, not very
clever . . . . obedient. Furthermore these qualities were held to be fixed and
unchanging (2007:42).
Cornell and Hartmann (2007:51), define primordialism as: "the idea that ethnic and racial
identities are fixed, fundamental, and rooted in the unchangeable circumstances of birth"
(2007:51). There are eight elements of basic group identity: physical body, name, history,
nationality, language, religion, culture, geography (2007:51). Most of these elements are


variable, for example, language, body characteristics, religious beliefs may be the same
across ethnic, racial, geographical boundaries or they may be different. Thus, is "too much
change and variation in ethnicity and race around the world to support the primordialist
account" (2007:54). Geertz defends its strengths in stating that the "feeling of belonging is
often associated with racial or ethnic group membership" (2007: 55).
Cicumstantialism, another perspective on ethnicity, proposes the ethnicity is fluid,
and focused on the circumstances and contexts in which ethnic and racial groups found
themselves . . . . The central role played by utility in the circumstantialist approach has led
many scholars to identify it as instrumentalism (Cornell and Hartmann 2007:59, 61).
Competition with the dominant ethnic group created by the new ethnic groups who may
accept less money for performing the same job creates tensions and may lead to persistence
of social barriers or internal colonization (Cornell and Hartmann 2007:65). This appears to
be the case for many Romanians who work in Western European countries for lower wages
than dominant groups. In this case, the orientation toward a Dacian identity may serve as a
reaction to the sense of inferiority they experience. Cornell and Hartmann see two problems
in circumstantialism: it ignores the sentiments and experiences of many ethnic
populations, and does not answer the question of why the actions of individuals are
motivated by ethnic attachment. Yet, they acknowledge that Ethnic and racial identities
are contingent on circumstances and therefore fluid and are often experienced as primordial
and therefore fixed (2007:74).
For Cornell and Hartmann, the constructionist approach offers a better explanation
of the making of ethnic groups and identities: "Ethnic group and identities form in an


interaction between assignment, what others say we are, and assertion, who or what we
claim to be (2007:75).
The authors also make distinctions between assigned identities and asserted
identities, thin or less comprehensive identities and thick or more comprehensive identities.
For example, the Italian American's identity was assigned and thin a century ago, but now
it is now strongly asserted as more Italian Americans have intermarried. Cornell and
Hartmann mention there are individuals who carry more than one identity; there are
members of the same identity group that can appear in more than one quadrant (one may
have a thin assigned identity, other a thick asserted identity); and identity may change along
both axes: thin-thick, asserted-assigned (2007:87). They conclude that "the power of
ethnicity and race lies in the significance we attach to them, both to our own racial or ethnic
identities and to the identities of others." Further, "Ethnic and racial identities are both
contingent on circumstances and therefore fluid, and are often experienced as primordial
and therefore fixed" (2007:74, 106).
Relevant to this question is the idea of the simultaneity of identities (Holvino
1994:161) and the two major forces of change for the meanings and models of identity:
globalization and the intellectual and political forces. Another book in this category is
The Social Psychology of Ethnic identity (Mayjel Verkuyten 2005). Three chapters in this
book are useful: Transnationalism and Diaspora (2005:116) The Role of Context
(2005:184), and The Ethnic Self (2005:205). In regard to the Transnationalism and
Diaspora, the idea of the recreated or imagined homeland is important because this
idealized image is common to many immigrant communities in the world. According to


Verkuyten, immigrant communities keep a permanent connection with their country of

origin on multiple plans: social, economic, material and spiritual, especially due to the
recent improvements in communication technologies and transportation. The immigrants
live in at least two places and times, the time and place of the adoptive country and the
mythical time and space of the native country and that has multiple and complex effects
regarding their beliefs, hopes, choices, and actions.
Building on this perspective, Dill, McLaughin and Nieves consider that people
live multiple, layered identities and can simultaneously experience oppression and
privilege (2007: 629). This suggests that people may have multiple identities and they can
be at the same time proud or ashamed of the one, without relinquishing the others.
A similar approach is found in Multiple Dimensions of Identity Model by Jones and
McEwen (2000). Identity is considered to be very complex and fluid, and this means the
identity is constantly changing under the influence of many factors. The identity has
multiple intersecting dimensions and characteristics: "the sense of self or the experience,
the externally defined dimensions: race gender, social groups, the dimensions of identity
"externally defined and internally experienced", and many "different identity dimensions
are present in each individual" (Jones and McEwen 2000:408-10). This may explain why
some people chose the Dacian dimension of the Romanian identity.
Another modality of identity reconstruction is to build imaginary communities.
This idea was developed and explained by Benedict Anderson in Imagined Communities
(1983). Although Benedict Anderson is considered by some sociologists as belonging to
the historicist or modernist school of nationalism, one of the most interesting aspects for


my study is the way he reconstructs the concepts of ethnic identity and nationalism starting
with from the idea of imagined communities. For Anderson, nationalism is something
artificial and invented, and the community is a falsity: Nationalism invents nations where
they do not exist (Anderson 1983:6). According to Anderson, nationalism is something
else, it is a fraternity, comradeship that makes millions willing to die for limited
imagining (7). The base for the national consciousness is print languages, which created
fields of exchange that started to unify individuals. Ordinary people became aware of
millions others who spoke the same language. Print capitalism gave fixity to the languages
removing vernacular dialects or isolating them, thus making communication possible for
people who spoke different dialects of the same language. Through this process, print
capitalism created a language of power, the new dominant dialect that becomes the official
According to Anderson, the progress of schools and universities measures that of
nationalism (1983:71). The European revolution in 1848 was influenced by the spread of
schools and universities although there were only 19,000 high school (lycee students)
students in France, 20,000 in Russia and about 48,000 university students in all Europe. It
does not sound like a large number, but it represented a large increase compared to the
previous centuries. With regard to the actual territories of Romania, by the end of the 18 th
century, grammars and histories of the Romanians appeared, followed by the replacement
of the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin one. The printing of the vernacular languages created
solidarity among the middle class bourgeoisie. A similar process happened in Japan where
universal literacy was introduced in 1872 for adult males followed by the constitution


reform after the Prussian model in 1889. The result of the school and print propaganda
was that Japanese imagined themselves as members of the same community. Their
solidarity led to military victories against China in 1894 and in 1895, and to the annexation
of Taiwan in 1895, and Korea in 1910.
At this point, I see two objections regarding the source of the imagined
communities: first, these communities spoke different dialects but not different languages,
which shows a connection between them and maybe the existence of a community,
imagined or not, previous to the printings; second, people were still aware of the existence
of millions others who spoke the same language, through the spoken language, through
stories, songs, traditions, trade who established new connections or strengthened the
existing ones.
By the time the European revolution started, there was a contradiction between the
nation and the dynastic realm. For example, between the Austrian-Hungarian Empire on
one side and the Magyarized Slovaks or Transylvanians, also between the Japanese Empire
and the Japanized Koreans. The nations were not allowed to have their own local or
national administration, but they had to accept the empire ruling them.
In the European colonies from Asia, the connection between the colonizer and the
colonists was made by some local children who went to study in Paris and London. Once
they graduated they were forced to return to the colonies because they couldn't integrate,
and due to the the poor career perspectives in Europe. When they arrived home, they
brought with them parts of the culture, civilization, and the knowledge accumulated during
the years of study in the Western countries. They translated and adapted their experience


thus creating new connections between the locals and the vision of the new nations that
would rise against the colonizers.
Anderson proposes there is a special kind of contemporary community expressed
through poetry and songs:
No matter how banal the words and mediocre the tunes, there is in singing an
experience of simultaneity. At precisely such moments, people wholly unknown to
each other utter the same verses to the same melody. Singing the Marseillaise,
Waltzing-Matilda and Indonesia Raya provide occasion for unisonality for the
echoed physical realization of the imagined community (Anderson 1983:145).
This was also the case for the Romanian states emancipation and unification in the XIX-th
century when the Romanian origin and identity was strengthen by poetry, literature, music,
art. Also, the Dacian identity was emphasized at the time, especially by the Romanian
national poet Mihai Eminescu and by Nicolae Densusianu, born in the Austrian-Hungarian
Further Anderson shows that the new scientific discoveries of the colonial powers,
as well as history, archeology, cartography were meant to better control the colonies, but
in the end, the educated locals started creating a special identity. They helped people
imagine and create new communities, and the new nation states emerged threatening the
colonial empire.
Today, millions of people have stopped accepting what other millions imagined
about them and started imagining new states like Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. There are
probably many others who were part of the Soviet Union and now wait for a favorable
context to become fully independent. One of them is the Republic of Moldavia who


although is an independent state has to tolerate the Fourteen Russian military army on its

3.4. Conflict Theory Perspectives

The actual evolution and perception of the Dacian sub-identity may by the result of
many past conflicts, some of them still ongoing. The rivalry between Dacians and Romans
ended long time ago, but some opposition still exists in peoples minds, based on the history
classes learned in school. A positive, creative conflict exists today under the form of rivalry
between different regions determined by slightly different traditions, cultural variation,
vocabulary, accent, and ethnic identity.
Brubaker considers that ethnic nationalism could be interpreted in two ways:
through biology or ethno-culturally. On the other hand, the term civic is more ambiguous,
civic nationalism being perceived as either a rationalistic understanding of nationhood.
Nation affiliation is rather chosen than given (2004:152-3). Michael Keating defines it as

Collective enterprise rooted in an individual assent rather than ascriptive identity.

It is based on common values and institutions, and patterns of social interaction.
The bearers of national identity are institutions, customs, historical memories and
rational secular values. Anyone can join the nation irrespective of birth or ethnic
origins, though the cost of adaptation varies. There is no myth of common
ancestrybased on territorial defined community, not upon a social boundary
among groups within a territory (1996: 5).


Brubaker analyzed the ethnic conflicts in Eastern Europe and notes that despite the
high number of Russian ethnics located outside Russia in some of the ex-Soviet republics
(over 25 million), the only violent conflicts took place in Yugoslavia, Transcaucasia and
the North Caucasus. More recently, however, conflict has occurred in Ukraine, a
development that actually contradicts Brubaker's statement. He also mentions the case of
the Dniester Republic in Moldavia and he analyzes the case of ethnic Hungarians in
Romania. However, he ignores the case of the Romanians in the Republic of Moldavia,
who make about 70% of the population and live in a state which is to this day separate
from Romania. He mentions that unlike Western Europe, where the population is more
heterogeneous, in Eastern Europe there was a process of un-mixing, reducing rather than
increasing heterogeneity (Brubaker 2004:153).
A comparison can be made using some of the examples analyzed by Michael
Banton (1997). He considers that a group can be defined through opposition with another
group or groups, the characteristics of ethnics groups are not expressions of innate features
and the ethnic, national, social or religious groups are continuously changing as their
member react to new circumstances. The process of group formation is influenced by the
structure of the social institutions and by the social changes. There is a continuous
interaction between the group formation process, the structure and the consciousness of the
group. Some people just follow the local conventions without any fine distinctions. For
Banton, all social groups have a potential for change and this potential is higher if these
groups are volunteer based, but in regard to the racial and ethnic groups he considers there
is little freedom of choice. He considers that these groups have different levels of


boundaries, sometimes congruent, sometimes overlapped, for example Muslim and

Sometimes the ethnic identification was not necessarily natural or voluntary but
forced or artificial and one of Bantons examples is the ex-Yugoslavias case when Croats,
Bosnians, Albanians had to accept the new Yugoslavian identity after the Second World
War. In this context, the appearance can generate confusion and it may be misleading. For
Banton, the use of state power to decrease group consciousness can pose dilemmas
because . . . state is rarely neutral . . . A policy of benign neglect may be preferable to some
forms of intervention (1997:130).
The same tendency was explained by Romanucci-Ross, De Vos, Tsuda (2006), in
relation to an Italian province and city: Ascoli Piceno. The people living in that area, speak
Italian but they also use a dialect that is hard to understand for Italians who only speak the
official language or for other Italian dialects speakers. Some of these people consider
themselves the successors of the immigrants from Troy when the city was destroyed or
descendants of the Pelasgians, who according to some historians were the ancestors of
Dacians. It is interesting to mention that between Ascoli and Rome there was a constant
conflict, with some breaks, that the place where Spartacus defeated the Roman soldiers was
very close to the city and that the locals actually still consider themselves different from
the rest of Italy, celebrating certain festivals and still preserving traditions that are not
common to the rest of the country.
A parallel can be drawn here between the double identities of the inhabitants of
Ascoli: Italian and Ascolian, in Romanucci-Ross et al. (2006) and the distinction made by


Banton (1997) between the ethnicity of the Italians in Italy and the ethnicity of the ItalianAmericans or Polish-Americans. The last two identities are secondary ethnicity in which
ethnic groups compare themselves with one another within a framework of shared
citizenship (Romanucci-Ross et al. 2006). Both examples show there is a tension between
the two identities and sometimes one becomes dominant or a third identity emerges.
For Romanucci-Ross et al., the conflict has an important role in a community
because it is placing a family in the hierarchy of control and respect (2006:158). He uses
the example of Ascoli Piceno community in which there are many long lasting conflicts
caused by almost anything: land, water, fire, crops animals, seeds etc. A similar situation
can be encountered in Romania, in the country side where some conflicts last for
generations but they are non-violent and they have a cohesive role, keeping the
communities together.
Group consciousness is very important for the acceptance or the rejection of certain
individuals in certain ethnic groups or categories. Banton mentions the example of James
Bryce (1912) who stated that In the United States everyone who is not white is classed as
colored, however slight the trace. In Spanish America everyone who is not wholly Indian
is classed as white, however marked the Indian type (1997:90). The reason for this
classification may be the fact that when there are only two categories, intermediate
characteristics will be attributed to the lower one in order to limit the number of persons
entitled to share the privileges (1997:90).

3.5. Postmodernism. The Discourse on Historical Truth


From a postmodernist perspective our society is continuously transforming, and the

perception of truth is also constantly changing, which generates mistrust of the grand
theories and ideologies.
Power has an important role in analyzing the relationship between freedom and
human needs being either the main source of oppression or, in rare cases, a promoter of
freedom. From Foucaults perspective, power doesnt only produce oppression it doesnt
always use force or repression, but sometimes it induces pleasure, forms of knowledge,
produces discourse (1980:119).. For him, the truth is a production of power, being
connected to the systems of power, extending the effects of power. Power cannot selfmaintain, it cannot function without the discourse on truth. Foucault considers that we are
obliged to produce the truth of power, that society demands (1980:93) and needs in order
to function. This means the actual capitalist society created the whole discourse of truth
that power uses in order to rule. Our society created the discourse about competition and
work, about the need for super-production, about diversifying production in order to satisfy
our needs. The society creates the historical truth, which can be modified according to the
social and political contexts.

3.6. The Memory and the Relationship to Identity

An important aspect of the historical perspective is represented by memory. There

are many types of memories that can be considered in different circumstances but in this


case we are mostly interested in the collective memory. According to Jeffry K. Olick, Vered
Vinitzky-Seroussi and Daniel Levy: Memoria is the basic form of our relationship to the
past, of our existence in time (2011:6). They show this relationship has changed with the
time, today an important role is played by media technologies, everybody being able to
record and share almost any event. Written records create a different relationship with the
past for the societies that have/had them compared to the societies that did not and that
used an oral type of memory that could be easily altered.
The study of memory and the relationship with the history relate to studies like
this one because memory is one of the main factors in the process of identity formation. It
shapes what people think about their past ancestors, traditions, legends, myths, about the
present, and how people report themselves to the past. Knowing about past events and
their causes, about ancestors and connecting them with the actual circumstances can
reshape individual opinions, choices and identities. For example, an Italian without the
written or oral memories about spaghetti or Leonardo da Vinci, inherited from his
ancestors, would be less Italian than we consider him now.
Today the Romanian society is in a complex process of transformation, switching
from communism to capitalism and from a centralized state to a democratic one, and we
can apply the example taken from Koselleck:
There is thus a stark contrast between a world of prophecy, in which events are
merely symbols of that which is already known...and one of prognosis, which
produces time within which and out of which it weaves (Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi,
and Levy 2011:7).


The memory is altered by the transformations of the social structure: The past is a foreign
country not only because it is long ago but because it is often far away (Olick, VinitzkySeroussi, and Levy 2011:7). This means that the actual traditions, and customs, probably
suffered transformations and could be different from what our ancestors used to celebrate
2000 years ago. One example is Calusarii, a dance and a ritual organization that probably
suffered many changes with time and many of its dances meanings and rituals have been
forgotten or reinterpreted.
In regard to collective memory Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy (2011) mention
Nora's (1989) and Megill's (1998) positions: The problem of the collective memory thus
arises in a particular time and a particular place, namely where collective identity is no
longer as obvious as it once was (cited by Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy 2011:8).
That is the case of some Romanian or Dacian old traditions that have been partially
preserved by the collective memory. Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy (2011) show that
by the end of the 19th Century, to prove the superiority of a certain ethnic group or nation
in the history of humanity, nation-states greatly increased the interest in their past.
This is the famous invention of tradition that Eric Hobsbawn and Terence Ranger
(1983) who showed convincingly how European states in the decades before World
War I sought to shore up the legitimacy they had been losing since the demise of
absolutism and the introduction of democracy by generating a sense of historical
endurance (often bogus) for their institutions and practices (2011:13).
Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy introduce Benedict Anderson's (1991) book, Imagined
Communities, in which he states that nations are imagined entities. But imagining nations,
Anderson argues in similar terms to Koselleck and Hutton quoted above, depended on the


decline of earlier cultural models, including that of the written word as a privileged carrier
of the ontological truth and of cosmological time (2011:13).
Regarding the selective use of the historical proofs, Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and
Levy show that:
To be sure, the memory boom of the late nineteenth century was tied up with the
ascendancy of nationalism, while that of the late twentieth century is tied up with
its decline and the nineteenth century was still the age of monuments, while ours,
given the atrocious history of the last hundred years, is one of the memorials
Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy (2011:225-227) analyze the collective memory and
indicate two complementary phenomena: socially framed individual memories and
collective commemorative representations and mnemonic traces. There are chances that
different remembrances are valued differently in the group, that the memories of some
command more attention than those of others. This may also be the case with the members
of one nation selectively remembering the history of another nation.
Also, Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy (2011) name:
The collected memory approach notion of collective memory as objective symbols
or deep structures that transcend the individual risk slipping into a metaphysics of
group mind . . . the social frameworks shape what individuals remember, but
ultimately it is only individuals who do the remembering (2011:228).
They also mention prosthetic memories, which emerge through the stimulation of our
neurological processes in different ways. Also, some European states during the nineteenth
century have developed new mnemonic forms like the museum in order to increase their
power and legitimacy (2011:228). It is emphasized the connection between retelling history
and reality in writing that:


Our need for immortality through the memory of posterity. In our descendants'
memory lies our hope. That requires our story to be set down, to become history,
like the stories of our fathers before us. In this sense history is the precondition of
destiny, the guarantee of our immortality, the lesson for posterity. Since we must
live through our posterity, the offspring of our families, that history and its lesson
must belong to us and tell our collective tale. Hence our myths, memories and
symbols must be constantly renewed and continually re-told, to ensure our survival.
The nation becomes the constant renewal and re-telling of our tale by each
generation of our descendants (Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy 2011:236).
Nowadays, Romanian people rediscover parts of the ancient Wolf Celebration still
preserved in the countryside and try to recreate the old customs. Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi,
and Levy (2011) show that by the end of the 19th Century, to prove the superiority of a
certain ethnic group or nation in the history of humanity, nation-states greatly increased the
interest in their past.
For Marcuse (2002), the suppression of history is a:
Suppression of societys own pastand of its future, inasmuch as this future
invokes the qualitative change, the negation of the present. A universe of discourse
in which the categories of freedom have become interchangeable and even identical
with their opposites is not only practicing Orwellian or Aesopian language but is
repulsing and forgetting the historical realitythe horror of fascism; the idea of
socialism; the preconditions of democracy; the content of freedom (101).
The suppression of history is changing the ways the individual understands himself and the
society, neutralizes consciousness, reduces individuals to working robots, inauthentic
copies of forgotten and lost matrix. Without the knowledge about the past, people can easily
repeat the same mistakes, losing their freedom to invented needs created with minimum
effort by a technology that enslaves and exploits them.
Michael Kammen (1991) analyzes the relationship between memory, tradition,
myths, and history, comparing democratic countries like United States and France with
totalitarian countries like Russia. He begins with Claude Levi-Strauss ideas on myths:


myths may be activated and reactivated in order to legitimize a version of history that is
useful or attractive. Also, myths may use a Purged past as the foundation for a future that
is just beginning to take shape (1991:17). Kammen (1991) compares different attitude
towards history or towards different events that happened in the past, in different countries:
Issues involving collective memory are not ordinarily, hotly contested in the United
States while in Germany the fierce public debate concerning historical revisionism . . .
provides a stunning contrast (1991:702).



This research paper explores:

1. The status of the Dacian sub-identity and its relationship with the Romanian
identity within different local and historical communities in Romania and the
Romanian Diaspora.
2. The awareness of a Dacian sub-identity among Romanians.
3. The prevalence of the Dacian identity among Romanians: attitude of Romanians
towards identifying as a Dacian and the degree to which they embrace or deny
this identity, considering economic, political and historical factors.
4. Migration and its impact.
When using the term status I am referring to the actual position of the Dacian subidentity relative to the Roman sub-identity and to the Romanian identity, the prestige of
the Dacian sub-identity, its legal character, popularity and the meaning associated to it. I
have tried to find out if the Dacian sub-identity is becoming more important than the
Roman sub-identity and whether that is influencing the perception of the Romanian
identity. I have also examined and analyzed the factors that influence these relationships:


culture, language, religion, political, social, economic contexts and the immigration



The primary research questions are as follows:
1. What is the relationship between the Dacian and the Romanian linguistic and
cultural heritage?
2. Does a Dacian community exist in Romania or abroad, and how is the Dacian
identity influenced by migration?
3. To what extent is the Dacian identity real and to what degree does it represent an
idealized, invented sub-identity?
4. Was the Dacian sub-identity a refuge against ethnic, linguistic and social
discrimination in the history, during the Turkish occupation, later during Russian
occupation of Basarabia and during the Communist dictatorship?

5. How is it possible to distinguish between Dacian and Roman influences on

Romanian culture and language?
6. The Dacian sub-identity serve as a refuge against prejudice and discrimination for
many Romanian communities. How does this process happen and what are the effects on
the Romanian identity and on Dacian sub-identity?


There are many recent historical books about the Dacians and their culture, but I am
not aware of any studies of the existence of a Dacian identity or sub-identity today. That
is why I have decided to use interviews for this study. This method reflects what the
Romanians within Romania and the Diaspora believe about the Dacian ancestors, if there
are still people who consider themselves Dacians or consider their direct ancestors were
Dacians, have a common history, people who believe their actual customs, traditions,
foods, holidays, are of Dacian origins, who have a sense of belonging to a Dacian
My research begins with a historical review of the development of the Dacian
identity. I have used qualitative methods in order to reveal many aspects of my research
topic, some of them possibly not considered at the beginning of this study.
I have started with Grounded Theory (Strauss 1967), as an analytical approach for
the qualitative research to unveil aspects of the experiences of my study population that
may enrich my findings. The reason why I used Grounded Theory is because there are
few studies and little information about the Dacian sub-identity and the best approach
was to formulate the theory inductively through observations, interviews and reflection,
continuously refining the indicators, concepts and the problem definitions.


As Glaser and Strauss showed in The Discovery of Grounded Theory. Strategies

for Qualitative Research (1967), the researcher will enter the study field with some ideas
that may influence the analysis or the final results. According to Glaser and Strauss,
ongoing reflection is as important as the coding and the recoding processes, generating
categories and theoretical memos: generation of theory through comparative analysis
both subsumes and assumes verification and accurate description, but only to the extent
that the latter are in the services of generation (1967:28).
As I explored this topic, I became aware that:
There is a tension at the heart of the qualitative research between presentation of
data and its interpretation. While the role of interpretation varies with different
approaches some interpretation will always be present, even if confined to the
selection of events and details relevant and the way a narrative account is
presented (Poirer and Ayres 1997:551).
To be able to find out whether a Dacian identity or sub-identity remains I have conducted
in-depth interviews with people from different regions of the country, Romanian ethnics,
from Romania or from the Diaspora, people of different ages, social conditions, different
religious beliefs, and living in urban areas as well as the countryside. Many of these
people have the experience of living in a different country than Romania. The interviews
have been conducted both in English and Romanian because some people are not fluent
in English and others may be able to explore more ideas, circumstances, and personal
experiences when using their native language.
The reason why I chose the in-depth interviews is to know and connect with the
interviewee's thoughts, experience, reasoning and feelings:


The interview gives the researcher access to interviewees thoughts, reflections,

experiences, memories, understandings, interpretations and perceptions of
the topic under
consideration. It gives the researcher the opportunity to establish
why people construct the world in particular ways and think the way they do. . . It is an
extremely versatile method and can be used to study an almost limitless range of topics
and research questions (Morris 2015:5).
According to Mason (2010), there are different approaches in regard to the sample size,
based on the concept of saturation, the chosen topic, and the size of the project. Although
some researchers mention different numbers for certain types of projects, and offer
specific guidelines, these are not followed by other researchers:
Further to this, other researchers have tried to suggest some kind of guidelines for
qualitative sample sizes. Charmaz (2006, p.114) for example suggests that "25
(participants are) adequate for smaller projects"; according to Ritchie et al. (2003,
p.84) qualitative samples often "lie under 50"; while Green and Thorogood
(2009 [2004], p.120) state that "the experience of most qualitative researchers
(emphasis added) is that
in interview studies little that is 'new' comes out of
transcripts after you have interviewed 20 or so people" (Mason 2010:3).
My research included 12 interviews and two focus groups. Six of the interviews were
done in Romania, and six in the United States. The two focus groups, each of them
comprised of five and six interviewees, were conducted in the United States. The first six
interviews have been done in the United States and the following six in Romania.
The two focus groups have helped me generate more ideas on the topic through
the interaction between the interviewees:
This research method is advisable for generating ideas for investigation or action in new
fields; for generating hypotheses based on the perception of the participants; to evaluate
different research situations or study populations; to develop drafts of interviews and
questionnaires; to supply interpretations of the participants' results from initial studies;
and for generating additional information for a study on a wide scale (Freitas, Oliveira
and Jenkins 1998:2).


Another benefit of the focus groups is that: they offer the chance to observe participants
engaging in interaction that is concentrated on attitudes and experiences which are of
interest to the researcher (Morgan and Spanish 1984: 259)
I chose to use snowball sampling as part of my method because I anticipated that
might be difficult to find the interviewees in the beginning because they might be reticent
or afraid to be ridiculed: The method is well suited for a number of research purposes
and is particularly applicable when the focus of study is on a sensitive issue, possibly
concerning a relatively private matter, and thus requires the knowledge of insiders to
locate people for study (Biernacki and Waldorf 1981: 141).
6.1. Data
In order to make certain information about the interviewees easier to find, access
and process, I organized it into tabs, mentioning: name, ethnicity, place of birth,
residence, gender, age, studies, Dacian sub-identity/identity, language and family linkage.
The tabs are available between the method section and findings.


During this research I identified some groups of Romanian ethnics who live in
Romania or in the Diaspora who consider themselves Dacians. I was also be able to find
a strong relationship between the Romanian identity and the Dacian and Roman subidentities with an increasing importance of the Dacian sub-identity, proportional to the


decreasing of the importance of the Roman sub-identity and the hesitation of showing or
recognizing the Romanian identity.
Although the Dacian sub-identity became more popular, it is not probable that the
Dacian identity will totally replace the Romanian identity although a mixed DacianRomanian identity is possible, especially if the actual trend continues among the young
student communities.



Interview Ethnicity

Place of
Residenc Gende Age Studies
birth/childhood, e
city or

Dacian sub-identity/identity


Family linkage

Romanian parents, Dacian
Moldavian (Variety ancestry
of Romanian)



Moldavian/ The Republic of USA

Romanian Moldavia/countr




Yes, moderate



Romania/country USA




Yes, he consider himself Dacian, Romanian

and Dacian is Romanian

He used to live with the

grandparents in the
summer, in the








Not sure

Not mentioned




Romania man



Dacian origins (sometimes he
feels more Dacian than
Romanian, due to discrimination)

Traditions learned from




Romania/country Romania man





Not mentioned






Romania man



Dacian sub-identity melted into

the Romanian identity


Not mentioned




Romania man



Dacian sub-identity is part of the Romanian

Romanian identity

Not mentioned







Romania man




Not mentioned






Professor Dacian sub-identity is part of the Romanian

Romanian identity

Not mentioned




Romania woman 39


Yes, she considers herself a


Not mentioned

Christine Romanian




Dacian sub-identity is part of the Romanian

Romanian identity

Her father consider

himself a Dacian



Romania man



Yes, very strong

No connection with the






Not mentioned
Dacian sub-identity is part of the Romanian
Moldavian and Romanian
Moldavian (Variety
of Romanian)




Dacian sub-identity is part of the Romanian

Romanian identity



woman 37

Dacian sub-identity melted into

the Romanian identity





Moldavian/ The Republic of

Romanian Moldavia


Romania USA

Not mentioned



Moldavian/ The Republic of

Romanian Moldavia









Dacian sub-identity is part of the Moldavian (Variety Not mentioned

Romanian identity
of Romanian)

Romania USA

woman 23


Dacian sub-identity is part of the Romanian

Romanian identity

Not mentioned


Romania USA

woman 47


Dacian sub-identity is part of the Romanian

Romanian identity

Not mentioned



Romania USA






Not mentioned



Romania USA

woman 52


Romanian-Roman identity


Not mentioned



Romania USA






Not mentioned



Romania USA



Dacian sub-identity is dominant


Not mentioned



Romania USA


College/re Yes, strong Dacian identity



Dacian ancestry, his

grandfather was mot

Group 2



Moldavian/ The Republic of

Romanian Moldavia





Yes, Dacian identity

Moldavian (Variety It is not the case

of Romanian)


9.1. A Historical Perspective.
9.1.1. The origins of the Dacians. A new turn to the perspectives offered in my
Many of the interviewees state among other opinions, at a certain moment of the
interview, that the Romanian nation emerges from a mixture between the Dacians and the
Romans, or at least they state this is what they have learned in school. This is the main
historical perspective in Romania and it is taught in all the schools across the country.
However, this statement has many variations and sometimes during the interviews it was
completed or questioned on the basis of new evidence, new theories or the lack of support
for the old theories.
For example, interviewees like Don, Chris, Sorin, Anthony and Marian believe
the Romanian people has formed as a mixture between Dacians and Romans, but there
are many nuances here. For Don (Interview 2), the Dacians did not disappear completely
and some of the Northern areas in Romania are still inhabited by people who resemble
Dacians. For Marian (Interview 9), it is hard to compare Romanians and Dacians because
of the time span; however, he believes the people in the countryside resemble Dacians


more than the people who live in the cities. Anthony (Interview 8) doesnt know any pure
Dacians, but Dacian-Romanian with strong Dacian traditions especially in the villages.
The school, home education and instruction are very important for the children in
shaping their future adult personality, character, vision, set of values, and political
opinions. In addition, education shapes societies and the relationships between them. For
example, the Romanian history textbook from the Communist era (Daicoviciu et al.
1984), and the ones in use today in general (Almas 1997), state that Romanians are the
result of the mixture between the Roman conquerors and the defeated Dacians:
The Dacians have learned the Latin language as well as the Roman settlers in
Dacia borrowed many of the Dacian traditions and living style. Also, the other
Dacians (from Muntenia, Moldova, Bucovina, Maramures, Crisana), who were
free and kept their living style, have received, nevertheless, much of the Roman
civilization. (Almas 1997:15, my translation).

9.2. A New Historical Perspective

On the other hand for Maria the base of the Romanian people is Dacian so most
of the Romanians are Dacian and simply describing the Romanians means describing the
actual Dacians(Interview 10, 2). In addition, she states that the Dacian nation was
grafted by other cultures(Interview 10, 2), referring to the French influence in the
beginning of the 19th and 20th centuries, when middle and upper class students used to go
to French Universities, and to the more recent impact of the English language and culture.
Maria is about 30 years old, and she lives in the Southwestern part of Romania, a region
called Oltenia. From a new historical and political perspective, she mentioned that the


French language, was accepted as a Romance sister language in order to oppose the
Austrian-Hungarian influence in the context of the independence struggle of the
Romanian states during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries:
Maybe it is true that the Romanization of the Romanian language was done by the Scoala
Ardeleana to release Transylvania from the Austrian-Hungarian empire domination. It
was an invention meant to get Romania closer to some power centers in Europe: France
and Italy, through a common origin and language (Interview 10, 4).

Maria suggests the possibility that the Latinization was invented recently to create a
stronger Romanian identity with support from the countries speaking Romance
languages. Maria, Rica and David are actually the only interviewees who make this
statement in regard to the Latinization of the Romanian language and identity. Though
not new, this theory is a reasonable explanation of the political conditions in the 18 th and
19th centuries when the Romanian states needed support to gain independence and resist
aggression from the outside. It is interesting that some of young historians and scholars
studying in Romania embrace this perspective.
Marcuse's theory about the suppression of history, of the future and of the past can be
considered here (2002:101). Maria shows the education is very important for our identities
and this statement is proved by many of the interviews, because people often mentioned
what they have learned in school about Dacians and Romans. This information is more or
less correct, and this demonstrates the role education plays in the formation or the
suppression of history. Maria mentioned there was a different national interest that
determined the 18-19th century politicians to create a Latin identity in order to receive


support from some of the Western countries against the Austrian-Hungarian Empire who
at the time occupied Transylvania, so she suggests that Romanians should be taught a more
accurate version of their history of Dacians in schools and universities. This evidencebased history would gain wider acceptance and legitimacy.
Daniel Roxin, on his site Adevarul despre Daci (, in
English The Truth about Dacians mentioned one of Plato's dialogues, Charmides, in which
Socrates spoke about a Thracian and Zamolxian1 physician:
I learned when serving with the army from one of the physicians of the Thracian king
Zamolxis, who are to be so skillful that they can even give immortality. This Thracian told
me . . . the Greek physicians are quite right as far as they go; but Zamolxis, he added, our
king, who is also a god, says further, "that as you ought not to attempt to cure the eyes
without the head, or the head without the body, so neither ought you to attempt to cure the
body without the soul; and this," he said, "is the reason why the cure of many diseases is
unknown to the physicians of Hellas, because they are ignorant of the whole, which ought
to be studied also; for the part can never be well unless the whole is well." For all good
and evil, whether in the body or in human nature, originates, as he declared, in the soul,
and overflows from thence, as if from the head into the eyes. And therefore if the head
and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the first thing Plato
(380 BC).
According to Daniel Roxin the Dacians had complex knowledge about medicine in general,
medical plants, surgery and astronomy, their calendar being more precise than the Roman
calendar. Most of this information, important for its scientific and historical content, is not
taught in Romanian schools or universities. However this information became available,
especially online or on some television shows, being presented by some scholars or writers
like Daniel Roxin.
9.3. History of Art Perspective

Zalmoxis was considered a Thracian-Dacian king and God


Leonard Velcescu (2010) finds a few interesting facts about Dacians that bring
questions regarding the relationship between the Dacians and Romans:
Although the Dacians have been defeated and they were probably prisoners, they were
not represented with the hands tied behind back as the other prisoners. Velcescu
mentions the Romans used to tie the prisoners hands behind back. These statues belong
to different schools of art and some could have been brought from Dacia before or after
the conquest.
Their attitude as represented by the statues is not humble, defeated, fearful, a prisoner
attitude, by the contrary, they appear dignified, calm, and serene. They rather look like
free men than prisoners.
There are many statues of Dacians of different sizes that have been initially placed in
Trajan's forum and some are made of a very tough material, very hard to work with,
porphyry, which was reserved only for the important personalities of the Roman Empire
(2010:141). Some of the porphyry statues are made or have been brought from Dacia.
For the first time a barbarian king, Decebalus, has been represented multiple times in
the antique statuary sculpture.
All these findings raise many questions regarding the origins of the Romanian
people and their connections with their ancestors, the Dacians and the Romans. It also
indicates a continuity of the Dacians, at least in regard to physiognomy and traditional
dressing and a special relationship with the Romans.
Velcescu (2010), explains the meaning of the term barbarian for the Romans and
Greeks: According to Quintilian the features of the Barbarian language were: some letters


were added or removed within the Latin words or some were switched. According to Isidor
from Sevillia . . . . barbarian words where Latin words corrupted in regard to the letters or
sounds (2002:1057). For him, the Latin and the Dacian language were related and people
speaking Latin could communicate with people speaking Dacian: The Barbarian language
had, according to some authors the features of the Vulgar or Rustic Latin (2002: 1060).
This statement becomes a reason for the idea of the Dacian language and identity continuity
in Romania, later borrowed or researched by other authors. In this case the author doesn't
recreate his homeland, but he rediscovers it through scientific methods.

9. 4. The Dacian Language

I will now turn to some of the interview statements regarding the origin of the
Dacians people, from this perspective, based on the literature about the history and
language of the Dacians, studied for this purpose.
The official position of the Romanian linguists is that the Dacian language has
disappeared after the Roman partial conquest of Dacia in 106 A. D. According to them
only a few words persisted in the Romanian language, most of the vocabulary being
replaced by Latin words, and in a small proportion by Slav words.
A relatively new theory about the evolution of the Dacian nation and language,
from the literature, is embraced by Rica (Focus Group 2) who believes that only 35-40%
of the Dacian territory has been occupied by the Roman armies, and Dacian language had
not been Latinized . Rica is about 70 years old, he is from Transylvania and now lives in


United States. He believes that the Dacian language was preserved, it evolved into the
actual Romanian language, and the Romanians have Dacian roots with influences due to
the migrations. His views are expressed in the following excerpt from his interview:
I would have to add some things: according to new researches and documents,
Trajans Column, there are new ideas regarding the Dacian language and customs.
It is known that the Roman empire only occupied 35-40% of the territory and the
Dacian nation rushed to learn the Latin language, starting from Azov sea and
towards Germany, because the Thracian tribes occupied a large territory, from
Caucasus to the actual territory of Swiss, where there is village where a language
close to Romanian is spoken . . . The new theory states that Dacians spoke vulgar
Latin language, not Getae or Thracian. On the Trajan Column, Dacians appear as
free solders, like free solders, not with tied hands, not as prisoner or defeated. The
new theory to which I totally subscribe is that the Romans have learned Vulgar
Latin from Dacians. According to the general accepted theory, Dacia is the only
nation that learned the Latin language from the Romans. Neither did the
Portuguese, the Spanish, the Southern French, Southern Germans, neither those
from Pannonia planes, not Hungarians yet, but only one nation, not entirely
conquered (35%) has learned the Latin language! Don't you think this is a little
strange (Focus Group 2, 2, 3)?
This quote reflects the reasons used by Rica to support his statements. Similarly to Rica,
Maria considers that, the Romanian language was not inherited from the Roman
conquerors because Dacians spoke a version of Latin before they were partially
conquered by the Romans and their language was not as simple as some believe. Rica has
mentioned during the interview that Thracian tribes occupied large territories of Europe,
some of them being located even in Swiss and I have found an interested magazine article
related to this statement. 2

The article is called Our brothers from the Alps, published in Formula As magazine, (2005) and it

mentions an old community of people called Romansi, who live in Engadin, region of Grison, Switzerland.


Gellner's functionalist theory proposes that nationalism blends historical and

cultural elements selectively, transforming them profoundly to revive and recreate
traditions and languages (Gellner 2006:54). In this context, his motivations are multiple:
Rica, was born in a family with some Montenegro ancestry and Rica is one of the many
Romanian ethnics who has developed a strong Romanian identity because of the long
Austrian-Hungarian occupation of this province Transylvania. This identity opposes the
identity of the Hungarian minority that lives in this province and states the Hungarians
were the first settlers in the region. As a result, Romanians from Transylvania may be
selecting linguistic, cultural and historical elements, referring only to their most
prestigious ancestors: the Dacians and the Romans, minimizing the other populations
who temporary occupied the area: Slavs, Germans, Hungarians, and Celts. In choosing
between Dacians and Romans, the Romanians emphasized the Romans in the 19 th century
because of the surrounding Turkish, Slav and Hungarian populations, based on the
language, culture and tradition similarities. The connection between the Romanian
identity and language on the one side and the Roman identity and the Romance languages

According to the article these peoples speak a language very similar to Romanian, with many common
words and expressions, have many similar toponyms, and for example carp that is actually the root of the
word Carpathian, the name of the main mountain chain in Romania. The article states they also have many
similar superstitions, traditions, foods. One of the Romansi Villages in the area, Falera, was attested in 3500
B.C. and according to the locals many of their traditions have been inherited from their ancestors, this
indicating their continuity, and strong cultural and linguistic connections with the Getae-Dacians
(Thracians) from Dacia.


on the other, provided support and international recognition at least from France and
Italy, officially speakers of Romance languages.
Again, consistent with Gellner's theory, some Romanians in nowadays
Transylvania may choose the Dacian identity for two reasons: (1) because some of them
believe they always had it, for example some people living in Maramures and Oas area
consider themselves either Dacians or their direct descendants, or (2) because the
Romanian identity, strongly connected to the Latin identity and language, is losing some
of its status and power due to the economic downturn , immigration and discrimination
in Western Europe.
Considering Epstein's (2006:103) distinction between ethnic identity marked by
positive poles and the ethnic identity marked by negative poles, the Romanian ethnic
immigrants are more comparable to hibakusha when they are misidentified with other
ethnics and labeled, they receive another identity, an imposed one, but they establish a
connection between each other through their maternal language, traditions and common

9.5. The Latinization of the Romanian Culture and Language

To this Latinization process of the Romanian culture and language contributed the
fact that Romanians where the only people who spoke a Romance language in a middle
of a Slav speaking mass of nations with the exception of Hungarians who spoke a


different language, of Finno-Ugric origin. In this context, Romanians may have been
named by their neighbors Romans, Rumuni or derivatively Romanians due to the
linguistic and cultural similarities between them and the real Romans who lived in the
Italic peninsula and later in the Byzantine Empire or the East-Roman Empire. This fact
may have contributed significantly to the formation of a Romanian Latin identity that
could be used in opposition with the surrounding identities in Eastern Europe. Also,
considering Maria's statement mentioned above, the theory of Latinization may have
been accepted and promoted, beginning with the18th century by the Scoala Ardeleana,
an important cultural movement that was determined by the unification of the Romanian
Metropolitan Church with the Roman-Catholic Church. Scoala Ardeleana played an
important role for the cultural and political emancipation of the Transylvanian Romanians
by promoting the idea of a pure Latin origin and language (claiming the Dacians have
been exterminated by the Roman invasion), replacing the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin
alphabet and introducing Latin neologisms in the Romanian language in order to replace
words of other origins. The result was a revival of the Romanian-Latin identity that later
determined the Romanians in Transylvania to gain independence from the AustriaHungarian Empire and to unify with Romania. This theory is contested today by
archaeological and cultural evidence that show the Dacian continuity in Transylvania
after the Roman conquest in 106 AD.

9.6. The Dacian Roots of the Romanian Traditions


Maria is from the Southwestern area of Romania, conquered by the Romans during
the war with Dacians. She is familiar with many old traditions, associated with the
Dacians that other interviewees also describe. As she commented:
It is astonishing how the traditions were transmitted for more than 2000 years: we
have Calusarii, we have the winter holidays - also based on old Dacian traditions, and
these are
ritual Dacian dances that have not yet disappeared but are an integral part
of the Romanian nation. These have not yet disappeared but they are about to (Interview
10, 1).
Like Rica, she identifies herself as a Dacian, based on her physical features. She
admits that Dacians changed, because of the Roman, French and English cultural and
linguistic influences, but the main part remains Dacian: The Dacians exist irrespective
of traditions, no matter if they are aware of that, like people in Oas for example or not.
They simply exist (Interview 10, 2, 3).
Maria also uses the discoveries of archeologists that document the existence of the oldest
writing systems in the world: Tartaria and Sinaia slates. In addition, she asserts the
possible existence of a complex oral culture that justifies the scarcity of written proves
and justifies the richness of the actual Romanian folklore and oral traditions. Finally,
Maria advocates the recognition of the Dacian ethnicity by the Romanian government,
since she doesnt believe in the Romanization of the Dacians. Maria and Rica bring into


play the military victories of the Dacians, as they defended themselves against the
Maria used the example of the Oas Dacians mainly because the area was barely
governable during the Austrian-Hungarian occupation and the people from this region are
very conservative and attached to traditions and language4. What Maria brings new
compared to Rica is her statements about the Dacians' advanced civilization, about their
medicine that was pretty developed at the time as well as arts, construction, agriculture
and military. She compares the Dacian capital, Sarmisegetuza, with the ancient temple
Maria commented that Romania had architecture, monuments, and traditions that
were comparable to those in Western Europe. Yet, they are not adequately valued,
preserved, and studied. Old cities or fortresses are left to crumble, which is an obstacle to
Romanians who want to know more about their history and ancestors. As with other
countries, Romanias history has both positive and negative aspects. In Marias view,

For Maria, the reason that supports these statements is their resilience in contact to the Roman civilization,

they persisted very well to many wars with the Romans including the ones in 101-102, 105-106 A.C., and
they didnt lose all their territories. After 165 years of occupations, Romans decided to retreat from that part
of the country because of the Dacian rebellions, and due to the free Dacian and barbarian invasions.

They speak the Maramuresan grai, a Romanian variety with accent which is not a dialect and it is close

to the official, academic Romanian language, but the pronunciation is a little different and it includes some


there appears to be a double suppression of the past in Romania: first of all the Dacian
ancestry has been denied, ignored and hidden. Though, a new identity based on
Latinization has been created, it is no longer powerful, and it is ignored by the foreigners.
It became shameful for the Romanians because of the association with poverty,
corruption and lie, especially during the recent governments made of people belonging to
the old Communist organizations. Secondly, in some cases, people form their opinions
about Romanians, based on some negative experiences according to the Romanians they
have met. Also, the media in some of the Western European countries created and fueled
this confusion, generating sometimes anti-Romanian feelings.

9. 7. Celebration of Dacian Traditions Today: Calusarii, Sumedru and Junii Brasovului

Another interviewee that has a strong interest in Dacian myths, celebrations,

language and clothing, is David, a young Romanian ethnic from Arad, Banat region,
located in the Western part of Romania, that has been under Austrian-Hungarian
occupation for long time. This is important for my study because Transylvanian and
Banat people are more attached to the Romanian values and cultural heritage. They are
also more nationalist, probably due to the long foreign occupation. Their TransylvanianRomanian identity formed in opposition with the Hungarian, Austrian or German
identities and thus it is stronger compared to the identity of the Southern Romanians,


because their identity wasn't threatened as much. He is about 34 years old, he is a writer,
he works in the media and he is passionate about the Romanian history.
As a specific Romanian custom, David mentions Calusarii, a very old dance and music
without an equivalent to the surrounding ethnics and countries. Traditionally Calusarii is a
secret organization, male-only, ruled by an older man who recruits single young men with
excellent physical abilities. The group takes an oath of secrecy and remains celibate for
nine years. After the oath young men are initiated into the practice of dance, singing, and
rituals. They roam the country during springtime and people believe that watching them
brings good luck and protect against the disease and evil spirits like iele. There was an
opposition from the church against Calusarii, who were excluded them from communions
for up to three years. According to Mircea Eliade (1975), Clusarii were known for "their
ability to create the impression of flying in the air (1975:161).
Everything that's left from this practice, Calusarii, remained in the collective
memory through its exterior form, the dance, but the meanings could have been lost,
reinterpreted, or slightly modified, because of the secret character of these groups. Calusarii
dances have been mentioned by other interviewees, but their meanings and interpretations
have not been explained as detailed in terms of historical references as David did. This is
a proof that culture and personal interest are very important in regard to the formation of
the Dacian sub-identity.
David states that Dacians are a component part of the Romanian nation and this is
being proved by the clothing and the traditions preserved until today. In regard to the
identity preservation based on traditions, clothing, language and foods, the history and the


collective memory have an important role. According to Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and

Levy in The Collective Memory Reader (2011), the memory represents a connection with
our past (2011:6), which creates a different relationship with the past for the societies that
have them compared to the societies that do not. This demonstrates the importance of
history, of the written and oral traditions, and of traditional clothing that many times carry
through times symbols and coded messaged. For example there are symbols belonging to
Cucuteni culture, about 4,000 years old, which appear on the traditional clothing today.
Another example of old traditions that make a connection with the Dacian past is
Murus Dacicus or the Dacian wall was a type of wall meant to protect cities or
fortresses against any type of aggression. The construction techniques are not entirely
known because they were either lost or kept secret. According to Cosmin Zamfirache in
the newspaper Adevarul (2014) there is a village in Romania, Horia, located in Mitoc
Comune, Northern Romania, where people build their homes from stone, using a 2000
old secret procedure, inherited from their ancestors. They don't use any type of cement or
binder. The ethnographers and the historians found these walls and the construction
techniques very similar to the Dacian walls and this village is probably one of the last
ones where this construction technique is applied.
This demonstrates that some professions may have resisted time and may still
preserve some techniques inherited from the Dacians.
David mentions the Dacian legend of the White Wolf that appears in different parts
of the country, under different names. For example, in Dambovita County it is called
Sumedru and this was also mentioned in the second focus group by Charles. He has


probably rediscovered this tradition in old rural communities and this could be an example
of the invention of tradition as it was theorized by Eric Hobsbawn and Terence Ranger
(1983), who showed how some European states before World War I tried to gain back
legitimacy creating a sense of historical resilience of certain traditions, and institutions. On
the other hand, if this tradition is genuine and has correspondents in other regions of
Romania this is a proof that some identities are founded on authentic customs.
Another old tradition mentioned by David is Junii Brasovului, in English the Young
people of Brasov:
This celebration is very well known in the area and it has been proved that it has Dacian
roots. This community organizes traditional events in Brasov area, every year and
obviously has such connections and continuity . . . . that also includes teachers and doctors
and there is an archaic language that is not understood in some regards not even by those
who use it but is preserved with great care from their ancestors. The rituals and the words
are repeated exactly the way they were learned but the meaning of some of them is lost
(Interview 12, 4).
Basically these traditions are a bridge between the actual modern community and their
Dacian ancestors, although some of the rituals and traditions have lost or changed their

9.8. Ancient Customs and Identity Reconstruction

Most of the interviewees were able to identify many old traditions and customs
that are pre-Christian, arent present in other countries that used to be part of the Roman


Empire, but can be found in many Romanian communities in Romania and abroad.
Because some of them were specifically mentioned to be Dacians, and because of their
pre-Christian origin and uniqueness, these customs and traditions are considered to be of
Dacian origin. There are differences between customs and traditions in the countryside,
these being more diverse, more complex and archaic than the ones still preserved in the
urban areas. Many of these traditions and customs were mentioned by more than one
interviewee and some of them appear in four interviews. This demonstrates their
popularity and the interviewees connection with the keepers and originators of these
customs, mainly considered Dacians. One example of such custom is Colinde, which
appear in Daniel's and Mihais interviews and in both focus groups. Colinde is a custom
practiced especially by the children and young people, during Christmas and the New
Years Eve. They go to every house of the community singing specific songs about
Christmas and some songs about the wealth and the luck of the New Year that apparently
have no connection with the actual Christmas. It is very common to all of the regions in
Romania and also regions inhabited by Romanians in Europe. Another old custom
present in the Romanian folklore and mythology is Sanziene. This was mentioned in
Christine's and Chris interviews and in both focus groups. It is necessary to mention that
Christine, Chris, Nicole and Charles, from the second focus group and Vasile from the
first focus group have grown up in the countryside and only Luca from the second focus
group grew up in a city. This emphasizes the fact that Sanziene was preserved mostly in
the countryside and has some agrarian characteristics unlike Colinde which was
preserved with small variations both in rural and urban areas. Another interesting aspect


is the fact that Sanziene is mentioned by people born in different countries, in Romania
by David, Christine, Chris, Nicole and Charles, and in Moldavia by Vasile and Luca. As a
consequence these customs are spread on a very wide territory. Sanziene is considered by
many people a pre-Christian celebration, in Muntenia and Dobrogea provinces taking
place on a specific date, June 24th and it is characterized by a traditional meeting of the
girls and women not married who pick herbs and plants with medicinal and magical
properties. The plants are also called Sanziene or Dragaica. The people who practice this
custom believe that during the Sanziene celebration, night miracles are possible, because
the barrier between this world and the other world disappears. Sanzienele or Dragaica are
considered to be some sort of small goddesses in some areas, beautiful girls in other areas
who live in the woods, dance hora, an old traditional dance, and practice rituals that give
special powers to some medicinal or ritual herbs. Other names for Sanziene are: Sfintelethe Saints, Frumoasele-the Beautiful Ones. They are also considered to be fantastic
creatures, made of air or positive characters. They are beautiful, they dance, travel fast
and sing more like goddesses than humans. Unlike Ielele or Rusaliile, other mythological
characters, Sanzienele help people, the animals, and the crops, bring prosperity, fertility
and have healing powers.
On the blog Terra Dacica Aeterna this celebration is described as:
The legend says that in long lost times, Sanzienele used to be priestesses of the
Sun, but as their beliefs are lost in the mists of time, today they are considered
beneficial fairies of extreme beauty. Some specialists say the Sanziene celebration
is a Getae-Dacian celebration of the Sun, millenniums old. In the night of 23 rd to
the 24th of June, Sanzienele, who live in forests and plains, come out of their
hiding places and dance the night away in circles. Where the Sanziene or


Dragaica dance, the plants grow healthier and stronger filled with healing
properties (Terra Dacica Aeterna blog 2012:1).
The solstice night or the Sanziene night, is considered one of the magical nights
of the year, when the veil between real and magic almost disappears and the two worlds
merge. People believe that in this night, Sanzienele or the fairies are flying or walking on
land, singing and dancing, healing, protecting the crops and the love. The legend says that
if people forget or ignore this holiday and don't celebrate Sanzienele as they should,
Dragaicele will get angry and they will punish the ignorant.
According to most of the interviewees this celebration takes place three days after
the summer solstice, being directly connected to the longest day of the year, to the
celebration of the Sun. On Sanziene night, huge fires are lighted by young men on top of
the hills while singing: "Go Sun, Come Moon/ Good Fairies/ May the flowers grow the
flower/ Yellow and sweet smelling/ For the girls to harvest it/ To make it into wreaths/ To
wear on the hats/ Flowers for marriages/ The old women to spell them/ To get married by
the autumn", and imitating the sun movement (Terra Dacica Aeterna blog 2012:1).
There are complex rituals that involve both young men and women, and old women as

According to Terra Dacica Aeterna (2012 ), this night, the young, unmarried women and girls go

to the forests to pick tiny, yellow Sanziene flowers, make wreaths and throw them on the roofs and if the
wreaths get stuck on the house they will marry before the end of the year. Next morning, young men
wearing Sanziene at their hats will go through the village to pick the maiden that will represent the fairy,
chosen from a group of seven girls, the most beautiful, and the one with best character of the group. She


Some consider this tradition Dacian, other like Romulus Vulcanescu in Mitologie
Romana, (1987:127), consider it to be of mixed origins, Dacian and Roman, the name
Sanziana being composed of san from saint and ziana from the Roman goddess Diana .
In certain areas, in the cities or countryside, young girls put Sanziene flowers
under the pillow in order to dream their future husband. 6
An example of a Dacian tradition resurrected is the International Day of ie, which
is the actual Dacian-Romanian traditional blouse, and begun to be celebrated since 2013.
The day chosen to celebrate the Romanian Blouse, June 24, is the date of Sanziene
celebration. This is not a simple coincidence and the date was selected purposely to emphasize
the strong connection between the two important elements of Dacian traditions: the symbolic
clothing and the solar, ancestral rituals. This resurrected tradition spread rapidly in most of

the Romanian communities, being celebrated in the Republic of Moldova, in Western

Europe and in United States. In Washington DC, the Romanian community already
scheduled this special event on June 24th 2015.

will become a Sanziana, dressed in a white dress and she will sing and dance along the village in the
intersections and the crop fields.

If the maidens want to marry fast they need to wash themselves with flower dew in the Sanziene

morning and before sunrise. In hidden places, far from the village, the old women collect the Sanziene dew
in a white container, and it has to be in new cotton. When going back home, the women are not supposed to
talk or meet anyone in their path. If everything is done right, the girl who is going to wash with the dew
will stay beautiful, healthy and she will be loved for the entire year.


Michael Banton (1997) considers that a group can be defined through opposition
with another group or groups, most of the traditions mentioned here being found in
Romania and in the neighboring countries mostly at the Romanian minorities. These
traditions have been preserved even when the region has become part of a different state,
through the opposition with the other ethnics, or in Romania, preserved especially in the
As I mentioned before, this celebration could be Dacian, if we consider the other
name, Dragaica, without Latin roots, Roman or Daco-Roman, according to the Romulus
Vulcanescu, if the possible etymology for Sanziene is accepted, but nowadays it is
considered Dacian due to a possible process of identity reconstruction.

9.9. The connection between generations

Another area I explored in my research is the connection between grandparents and

grandnephews. As Epstein emphasized, the grandparents, not the parents, establish the
strongest connection between the generations, they introduce the past to the children
through stories and they are living links to the past (2006:145). While the relationship
between the parents and the children is one of subordination and dominance, the one
between the grandparents and children is an alliance.
The young Romanian immigrants in Western Europe are influenced by this strong
relationship with their grandparents, most of them very traditionalists, grown in the
countryside, close to old customs and nature and they are more likely to rediscover or


reconstruct a Dacian identity. Also, many Romanians who work temporarily in other
countries of the European Union leave their children in Romania with their grandparents.
According to David, the connection between the Dacians and the actual people who
live in some rural areas in Romania is made by customs, stories and myths. There are also
some legends about the Dacian gold curse, that are actually taboos and people believe in
them. David gives some example of these taboos being broken by some people who wanted
to become rich and succeeded by finding a Dacian treasure. In the end they lost everything
they had, they became crazy and died: There are more stories and statements form the
Orastie mountains area where in a similar ways people who were also presumed guilty or
arrested because of artifact traffic have lost everything, died in suspicious circumstances
or lost their minds (Interview 12, 3). These legends are very powerful in those areas and
they create a direct connection between the community and their Dacian ancestors. The
community in this case becomes the guardian of their ancestors' memory, tombs and
treasures. The easiest way these legends are transmitted is oral, through stories told by
grandparents to their grandchildren.
During the Communist era most of the lifestyle, customs, myths and traditions have

been preserved due to the fact that Romania was a closed society and the social mobility
was relatively low. Today the Romanian society is in a complex process of transformation,
switching from communism to capitalism, from a centralized state to a democratic one, and
some of the traditions might suffer changes or disappear, other might be resurrected.


9.10. Traditions and Modernity

Some differences were apparent between the interviewees that come from the
countryside or have spent their childhood in a village and people who grew up in the
cities. The first category has a stronger connection with the nature, with the traditions,
customs, celebrations and superstitions than the second category. Many customs that are
preserved very carefully in the countryside have disappeared in the city or have been
changed in order to correspond to the new conditions, interests, demands, fashions,
international trends or attitudes. One example is the old Romanian custom of Dragobete,
celebrated on February 24, but being replaced recently by the more popular and
commercial Valentine's Day.
In the first focus group, Vasile who grew up in the countryside mentions many
traditions that are still preserved in his area and may be of Dacian origins with Christian
influences: Plugusorul, Colindele, Uraturile, Craciunul, Ielele, Sanzienele, St. Gheorghe,
Caloianu, Paparudele, I consider them Dacians. They may have been modified, they may
have received some Christian content (Focus Group 1, 7). Ilie from Maramures and
Victor from the Republic of Moldavia, mention the transformations suffered by some of
the traditions nowadays:


Ilie: Like Valentines Day that almost became more popular than
Dragobete(Focus Group1, p.6).
Vasile: These Holidays are reinterpreted, there are new contents added, each
generation uses them as they want or need to (Focus Group1, 6).
Vasile's statement is very important because it shows that some of the meanings of
old celebrations and traditions may be preserved, but other may be altered in order to
better answer the community spiritual, social and political needs. This may be the case
for the revival of Sanziene and the association of this old celebration considered Dacian
with the Day of the Romanian Blouse, part of the Romanian traditional popular clothing,
also considered of Dacian origin. The revival of these two important elements of the
Romanian tradition and identity may not be accidental. This could be the result of the
Romanian diaspora spread throughout the world and trying to redefine the Romanian
identity, in a moment of crisis, by returning to the Dacian roots.

9.11. Memory and Dacian Identity

The memory and the relationship with the history are important for my study mainly
because the history is based on collective memory, and it is part of the process of identity formation.
Memory determines what people think about their past, history, ancestors, traditions, legends and
myths, about the present, and it shapes their present actions.


As discussed earlier in this thesis, Michael Kammen, (1991) has written about the
relationship between memory, history, myths and traditions, comparing democratic
countries with totalitarian countries. He explained how these myths can be activated and
reactivated in order to legitimate history. Kammens insights may be applied to the myths
that underlie the theories regarding the Dacian origins of the Romanian people, which are
evident in popular customs, traditions and superstitions. However, there are many
historical sources and archeological evidence demonstrating the survival of the Dacian
civilization and society prior to the Roman occupation, and still present long after the
Roman retreat from Dacia, although this is not the official viewpoint of most Romanian
academics. Levi-Strauss' perspectives on myths is an alternative position to the official
opinion of some Romanian historians who intentionally ignore, use out of the context or
omit ancient sources and evidence of the Dacian language and the continuity of Dacian
civilization in the actual territory of Romania. This may suggest that, the myths about the
complete Latinization of the Dacians may have been activated or reactivated to legitimize
a version of the history and create a connection with other countries whose origins and
histories are similar, such as France and Italy. As Maria mentioned (Interview 10, 4),
these myths about Latinization may have influenced these countries to recognize
Romania's independence in difficult moments of its history, such as the War for
Independence with Turkey in 1877 or The Great Union in 1918. Kamen also mentions
that in France, different conflicting perceptions of the past especially of the revolution,
have been a deeply divisive rather than a unifying force. In Czechoslovakia and Romania
the proper interpretation of the historical myths and national legends has been politically


contested for centuries (1991:701). This statement underlines again the gap between the
political official position and people's beliefs. Kammen explains the contrast with the
United States through The American inclination to depoliticize the past, in order to
minimize the memories (and causes) of conflict: that is how we selectively remember
only those aspects of heroes lives that will render them acceptable to as many people as
possible (1991:701). The same explanation can be applied to Romanian history that
ignores important proofs, studies and references to the Dacian ancestry. Kammen points
to the need to reconcile tradition with democratic values, though not necessarily with the
practice of democracy (1991:701).
The invention of tradition of Eric Hobsbawn and Terence Ranger (1983), could
be applied to the origins of the Romanian traditions, from two different perspectives: the
one supporting the theory of Latinization and the one regarding the Dacian continuity.
Both origins of the Romanian traditions, Dacian and Roman, could be considered and
analyzed as being invented from Hobsbawn's perspective.
Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy's (2011) idea about the selective memory could
be extended to the historians of the 18th, 19th and 20th century who have decided that the
interests of the Romanian states (there were three separate states until 1918) would be
better represented if people would create and accept an identity based on the Roman
ancestry rather than a Dacian identity. The Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy (2011)
study can also be applied in a different manner to the actual disciples of the Dacian


continuity that may be tempted to selectively use the history, the archaeological evidence
and the memories about their ancestors.
If we apply Olick, Vinitzky-Seroussi, and Levy's (2011) statement about the past seen
as a foreign country(2011:7), the Dacian traditions, customs, rituals, and language,
probably changed and could be more or less different of what our ancestor used to celebrate
2000 years ago, before the Roman conquest. This may be the case of Junii Brasovului,
Calusarii and Sanzienele, whose meanings may have been altered, re-adapted or lost.

9.12. The Identity Revival

9.12.1. The origins of the revival

The actual new theories about the Dacian culture, civilization, language and
resilience are partially based either on new studies and discoveries, like the one of Leonard
Velcescu (2010), or on older theories so called Protochronism. Some of the most important
exponents of these ideas are Napoleon Savescu (1999) and Daniel Roxin (2013), already
mentioned above. Many of their ideas related to the Romanian history, language, ethnic
origins, and culture are related to Nicolae Densusianu's work Prehistorical Dacia (2002).
His study was done at a moment when one of the Romanian provinces, where his birth
place is located, Transylvania, was under Austrian-Hungarian occupation. In this context
some of his reasons for the study could have been, along with the research for historical


truth, the intention to create an interest for the Romanian history, a connection with the
mythical past and a stronger Romanian identity.

9.13. Obscuring and Replacing Identities

As Cornell and Hartmann (2007) propose, sometimes stereotypes reveal strong

conflicts between different ethnics or even within the same ethnic group. Analyzing the
cases of Hutus and Tutsies, the two ethnic rival populations in Rwanda, Cornell and
Hartmann (2007) mention physical and moral stereotypes they have about each other.
Similarly to Hutus and Tutsies, the stereotypes about the Roma or the Gypsy population
still exist in Europe, and they are also applied to the high number of Romanian immigrants
who are identified as Romas because of the name similarity and due to the job competition
they create. Both groups, Romanian and Gypsies face discrimination and marginalization.
To avoid being confused with the Gypsies, the Romanian ethnics adopt a new Dacian
identity or sub-identity that may help them adapt to the new social conditions. According
to the interviewees, this confusion creates tensions between the local population and the
Romanian immigrants in countries like Italy, Spain, France, and England, because of some
prejudice associated with Gypsy ethnics. This may be one of the main reasons why the
Romanian immigrants try to recreate their identities based on their Dacian ancestors
identity, and this appear in most of the interviews and both focus groups. Some of the
Romanian ethnics in these countries try to integrate as much as possible, they avoid the


Romanian language and traditions in order to be considered either members of the local
communities or immigrants of origins different than Romanian. Some others develop
through opposition a new Romanian identity, stronger than the previous one, more
traditionalist, in which the Dacian sub-identity becomes increasingly important, sometimes
replacing or being at the same level with the Romanian identity. Sometimes the two
identities: Romanian and Dacian, merge, becoming one and the same. In the case of the
Romanians the adoption of a Dacian identity counters negative stereotypes associated with
the Roma population. For David the Dacian identity revival is one of the keys of the
national identity revival (Interview 12, 6).

9.14. Dacian Revival

In regard to the Romanian ancestry and history, David has ideas much resembling
to Maria and Rica's, considering that: Dacians were not totally defeated by the Romans,
there is a Dacian continuity after the Roman retreat in 275 A. D., and it still exists today.
Also he believes the Latinization of the Romanian language and culture was done in
order to create a connection with Rome in the 19th century:
The Dacian identity revival is one of the key of the national identity revival . . .
and this could generate a name change in Dacia, which would be much closer to
the truth, because the name of Romania was given in the 19th century in order to
make the connection with Rome, . . . stating the Dacians have been exterminated,
although the historical proofs are abundant, showing the Romans only conquered
one third of the North Danubian Dacia and that after 106 A. D. there was a very
large number of Dacian wars and revolts. If the first revolt in the Roman Dacia
was in 117 A. D., the year of Traian's death, this is a strong proof of the fact that
the Dacians didn't disappear. After that, for almost 200 years there are tens of


wars fought by the free Dacians, Carpi, and Costoboci, against the Roman Empire
in the Roman province of Dacia as well as South of Danube (Interview 12, 6, 7).
Compared to other interviewees, Davids perspective is the most complex in regard to the
Dacian culture, language, identity and their connection with the Romanian language and
culture. Many of the ideas he offered are not available in the history textbook used in
Romania or Moldovia7. Notably, he is well informed about the Dacian identity revival
and its connection with the national identity revival, seeing the first as triggering the
second. And, secondly, he mentioned a name change from Romania to Dacia that would
correct a historical error.
According to David, in Romania, especially in the countryside, there are still
communities that consider themselves either Dacians or their direct descendants. In these
communities some traditions have been preserved unchanged for at least 2000 years as
well as the clothing, decorations and architecture:
There are many, there are traditional communities from Transylvania, Moldavia and other
regions of Romania in which the old people consider themselves the successors of
Dacians and there is an awareness of the Dacian continuity in these communities. There
are the villages in the Orastie Mountains where there are some traditions like
mournerswho mourn at the birth (Interview 12, 1, 2).

Another interesting fact mentioned by David is that, at the last Census that took place in
Romania, some respondents declared themselves Dacians: It looks like at the last census

He mentions the Dacians revolt right after the death of the Roman emperor Trajan, followed by many
other revolts and wars for about 200 years. Although these events are mentioned by many Roman
credible sources, they are not available in the history textbooks in Romania or in the Republic of


some people said they consider themselves Dacians, they have registered themselves as
Dacians (Interview 12, 3). The real number of people who consider themselves Dacians
could be higher, but sometimes they don't mention it in order to avoid being ridiculed,
discriminated or

sometimes these requests are not registered in order to prevent other

persons from registering as an ethnic minority, and then ask for specific rights.
In regard to identity, based on the empirical data, the constructionist approach offers
the most useful framework for explaining the making of ethnic groups and identities:
basically our ethnic identity is a mixture between what other people consider us to be and
what we think about ourselves Cornell and Hartmann (2007:75). The conflicting identity
starts at the moment when what we think about our identity doesn't correspond with what
others think about it, in this case it is the asserted Romanian identity versus the assigned
Gypsy identity.
Applying this theoretical approach to the Dacian sub-identity and to the
interviewees' answers we can say that the Dacian sub-identity is asserted and thick at this
moment as it become increasingly important and may become assigned with time
especially in the Romanian communities in Western Europe and United States if it is
promoted and becomes better known by the main ethnic groups of each country.
For David, Romania is a country under occupation (Interview 12, 8), because the national
interest is ignored and the history is recreated according to different interests, in order to
destroy the Romanian identity. In this case, the invention of tradition of Eric Hobsbawn and
Terence Ranger (1983) , the one based on the Roman heritage, is not meant to produce cohesion
and solidarity, but to induce a latent conflict between the real Dacian tradition, culture, language,


that may have survived until today, and the invented ones, based not only on Latin elements

but also on an important percentage of Slavic influences that, according to the official
position of the Romanian historians was most likely unilateral. For example many
Romanian words are considered of Slav origins although both languages are IndoEuropean and the influence may have been reciprocal: Romanian words that may have
entered the language through the Slav migrations, but also the other way around, words
borrowed by the Slav, or borrowed by both nations from Greek.
According to David, the most devastating effects on Romanian identity were
produced by the Bolsheviks:
This is the destruction of the Romanian identity and those who worked on this for
centuries and especially when the Bolsheviks took over Romania, the ones who had
most aggressive attitude against the Romanian identity, did very well their
job, so today many Romanian immigrants wished to erase their identity in order
to look better, especially in the European countries where there is a strong
perception that Romanian is the country of gypsies and the Romanian people are
a nation of thieves (Interview 12, 8).
David's statement is pointing to some of the main reasons for the decline of the Romanian
identity and for the revival of the Dacian identity. These reasons combined with the poor
economy and corruption in Romania, with immigration, and prejudice against Romanians
and Romanian Gypsies in the European Union may be accelerating the revival process of
the Dacian identity. David also states that, many Greek historians consider some of the
Greek ancient Gods to be borrowed from the Thracian Gods, based on archaeological
evidence. Nevertheless, historians and officials of the European community reject these
evidence because this may change the perception of the European historical and cultural
heritage, based on the Greek and Roman civilization and cultural model:


Famous Greek historians talked since antiquity, 2,500-2,300 years ago about the
rituals, the Gods borrowed from Thracian, about the Thracian Gods' mountains.
There are many things that bother the European Union as they would change the
perspective of the European History. At European level the starting point is the
premise that the top of the European civilizations are the Greek and Romans
civilizations and everything else was barbarian. The reality is different and the
attack of the identity is instrumented from the outside of country with help from
within (Interview 12, 10).
From a political perspective, this statement could bring a new vision on European ancestry,
language, traditions and history and it would probably be rejected by some historians and
European official, because it will challenge the actual political and ethnic organization.
Most of the interviewees understand the revival of the Dacian identity as a revival
of the old traditions, customs, dances, foods, education, school, politics, ethics and
eventually language. All these have to be completed by a strong sense of awareness, in
other words the Romanians have to be aware about their Dacian identity. The revival of the
Dacian identity should be basically the revival of the Romanian identity threatened by
corruption, poverty, poor education and disinformation.

9.15. The Idealized Homeland

Maykel Verkuyten's (2005) perspective on ethnic identity focuses on the recreated and imagined homeland. As Verkuyten asserts, immigrants in two places and
times: in the new country they decided to move and the idealized homeland. Rica's
comments about his native language, land, and the idealized history, and his acceptance
of an idealized version of Romania or Transylvania, is based on both real ties, new


studies and mythological conceptions: the Thracian tribes occupied a large territory,
from Caucasus to the actual territory and Swiss, where there is a village, where a
language close to Romanian is spoken (Focus Group 2, 2). Charles expressed a similar
opinion about Dacians:
I would say that the Dacians were the bravest and the most honest among the
Thracians, according to Herodotus. I believe his words. Dacians spoke the Dacian
language, we have inherited many customs especially in the countryside, the
culture-there is many archeological vestiges- they were good farmers, very brave
when they needed to protect their territories. Dacia extended from the mouth of
Bug to Caucasus during Burebista who reunited the Dacian tribes (Focus Group 2,
By embracing these ideas, they are able to better resist any danger from the outside or
from the inside (I am referring here to the danger of a part of Transylvania separating
from Romania due to the Hungarian minorities). From this perspective, Dacians or GetaeDacian are preferable because they are the noblest as well as the most just of all the
Thracian tribes," according to Herodotus in Histories (4.1993), and they were able to
fight and resist against the greatest empire of the time, the Roman Empire, at least during
the first Dacian-Roman war between 101-102 A.C. The ability to fight and resist a
greater power is comparable to the resilience of the Romanian ethnics in Transylvania
during the long Austrian-Hungarian occupation.

9.16. Education and Identity Revival


At this point the new theories that havent yet entered the school manuals although
they are freely expressed in the media (on TV, radio, in the newspapers, on the internet),
have influenced different categories of people: Rica and Maria. While Rica was
interviewed in a focus group in the United States, Maria was interviewed individually in
Romania. Despite the differences between Rica and Maria, including age, gender,
profession, education, and living in two different regions, they express similar perspectives.
Many of the interviewees mentioned the school education as their main source of
information about the Dacians, but some of them like Maria and David emphasized the
importance of a correct education system based on scientific and historical evidence.
An important detail that is missing from the history manuals is, according to David,
the Triumphal Arch of Galerius from Tessaloniki, Grece, built around 300 A. D., that has:
plenty of Dacian figures, Dacians holding the Draco in their hands, 200 years later,
with the same hats, clothing, the Dacian Draco being part of Emperor Galerius's
army, on which the antique sources state that he had Dacian origins. Even more, as
a curiosity, a church writer from the 4th century a C., from Constantine the Great's
court, the one that followed Galerius, contemporary with Galerius, mentions
Galerius in a book called De Mortibus Persecutorum, the emperor had the intention
to change the Title from Roman Empire to Dacian Empire and it seems that even
his personal guard, his praetorian guard was made of Dacians (Interview 12, 7).
This is another proof that the Dacians have not been exterminated after the war in 106 A.D.,
they still had a strong identity they gave an emperor to the Roman Empire, and they kept
the same war flag, the wolf head. These details, confirmed by scientific studies, if added to
the history manuals in Romania will help build a stronger Romanian-Dacian identity.
David mentioned some of the important historical episodes of the Dacians, that are
missing from most of the school manuals, or have been minimized: the Dacian victories


against the Roman empire at the end of the first century A. D. and the tribute paid by the
Romans to the Dacians after these wars. These are a proof that Dacia was a military power
at the time. Also, the numerous revolts of the Dacians in the occupied provinces, after 106
AD, demonstrate that Dacians have not been exterminated in the 105-106 AD war. Another
important information mentioned by David, but missing from the history text books is
regarding Regalianus, a Roman general of Dacian origin, apparently related to Decebalus,
the last Dacian king before the Roman partial occupation of Dacia: Regalianus, who has
been named emperor by the legions in Pannonia and Moesia and about him it is written in
this Istoria Augusta that he was worthy to become an emperor and also that he was a
nephew of Decebalus. (Interview 12, 8). This is one example of a Roman source that is
ignored by the Romanian historians and academics in the history text books. He is also
mentioned by Inge Mennen in Power and Status in the Roman Empire, AD 193-284 (2011:
218). Long after the Roman conquest of a part of Dacia, Regalianus, a Roman general of
Dacian origin, who was a relative of the last Dacian king Decebalus, revolted against the
emperor Gallenius. Regalianus was the emperor between 258-268 A.D. This event could
provide some evidence that 152 years after the Roman conquest, the Dacians or some of
them did not lose their identity.

9.17. The Romanians the Moldavians and the Diaspora

9.17.1. Moldavian versus Romanian


This research included interviews with Romanian ethnics from Romania, from the
diaspora and from the Republic of Moldavia whose majority population is made of
Romanians or people with Romanian ancestry. The Republic of Moldavia, also named
Moldova or Bessarabia was part of ancient Dacia, of ancient Moldova and later it became
part of the Great Romania.
This section analyzes the differences between the interviewees of the two countries,
especially the ways in which they embrace the Dacian identity or sub-identity.
There are four interviewees from the Republic of Moldavia: Vasile, Adrian, Luca and
Victor. All of them speak a variety of Romanian called Moldoveneasca which is very
similar to the actual Romanian language and has a direct correspondence to what is spoken
in the Romanian province called Moldova. The accent is slightly different and the
vocabulary includes some archaic Romanian words and Slav elements. Romanian is their
mother language.
The first interviewee I discuss is Vasile, a PhD student in the United States. He was born
in a Romanian family in the Republic of Moldova. Vasile mentions that he speaks the official

Romanian language but insists that at home he speaks Moldoveneste. Vasile has integrated
into both the Romanian-American and the Moldovan-American communities. Over 70 percent of
Moldavia's population is of Romanian origin and speaks Romanian, with a concentration of Russian
speakers, Tatars and Turkish speakers located in the Southeastern part of the Republic in what today
is called the Republic of Transnistria8. He also states that he doesn't have any explicit Dacian

This small republic of about 1,600 square miles is backed by Russia's14th army after a short war that
started in 1990 and lasted for about two years. I need to mention that immediately after the occupation


identity (Focus Group 1, 3). Although he doesn't adhere openly to this identity he
considers some of the most important Romanian and Moldavian celebrations of Dacian
I wanted to mention that I havent explicitly activated this identity, but I am aware
that most of our holidays are of Dacian tradition, including the big ones:
Christmas, Colinde, Uraturi referring to ploughing, that probably come from the
Dacians and maybe even earlier, celebrating and pointing to the connection with
the agriculture, with the land (Focus Group 1, 3).
For him the Dacians are alive also because we speak about them now, but he presents
a more nuanced vision about his ethnic identity:
I would say: Neanderthal-Dacian-Romanian-Moldavian-Telenestian, because I
am from there, and American. I would add all these historical layers and I would
add the professional identity. I consider that in this long row of my identities, the
Dacian identity has a place among the many others (Focus Group 1, 6).
His identity is split between a multitude of sub-identities, he doesn't mention a
prevalent one but the Romanian, Moldavian and Dacian ones are among them, the order
emphasizing the time and the location: If Dacian identity means Colinde, I miss this
although one year I went singing Colinde with friend on Christmas, we didnt specifically
think about our Dacian identity, but we thought of what we did home (Focus Group 1, 8).
At that point, Ilie who is a Romanian ethnic from the Northern part of the country,
Maramures, the place where people are still called Free Dacians exclaimed: Sometimes
you dont realize when you lose your identity. I just realize how much I miss some things
(Focus Group 1, 8), referring to the traditions mentioned by Vasile, that are common as
well as the language to both Romanian and Moldovan-Romanian ethnics. These traditions

of Bessarabia (Republic of Moldavia) by the Russian forces in 1942 the Cyrillic alphabet was
introduced in the region, replacing the Latin alphabet.


identified as Dacians by Vasile and other interviewees, are creating a connection between
these individuals who live in different countries. Nevertheless, a problem is identified by
Vasile who shows that Moldavian ethnics are split between East and West, between
Romania and Russia, between the opposing Slav identity and the Romanian and DacianRoman identities: I want to make distinctions between the Romanians that come from
Romania and those from the Republic of Moldavia . . . we have to build ours because we
have some competing projects. I have chosen to take the Romanian identity inclusively
accepting the gypsies, and other minorities (Focus Group 1, 9). Epstein's (2006) example
of identity reconstruction through opposition can be applied here; in this case, the main
opposing identities are the Moldavian and the Russian identities. If this opposition is placed
in the context of the interview time frame, the Russian identity is rejected with caution in
the Republic of Moldavia because it is associated with the country's structures of power,
poverty, corruption, a past war, and foreign occupation in the Republic of Transnistria. On
the other hand, this situation favors some people in Moldavia, especially the native Russian
speakers. If we apply the actual context of Russian military aggression in Ukraine, there is
an increasing threat for the Moldavian-Romanian ethnics and this fuels the opposition to
the Russian identity, and strengthens the connection with the Romanian identity and the
Dacian sub-identity.
According to Vasile, the traditions and the holidays in Moldavia are similar to the
ones in Romania, with some regional differences. He shared the opinions of other
interviewees that the Romanian identity is a mixture of Dacians and Romans, and that
Romanians and Moldovans have common roots. This point of view is opposite to the one


taught in the Moldovan schools during the Soviet Era. Then, children learned that
Moldovans and Romanians have different origins and traditions, and the Moldovans are
related to the Russians rather than to Romanians 9. From a historical, functionalist
perspective, Vasile adhered to the most suitable identity when he partially exchanged the
Moldavian community with a Romanian-American and a Moldovan-American
community. Vasile's choice of identity fluctuated as he adapts to different circumstances.
If we follow this assumption, Vasile developed a Moldavian identity in Moldavia, where
the school education was different from the family education and children were thought
they had only few things in common with the people living in Romania, thus the fear of
repressions or the need for a better status led him to adhere to this identity. In United
States, the threat disappeared and was replaced by the advantage of a faster integration
through the Romanian community.
When analyzing this interview it is important to consider the efforts of the
Communist Party in Romania and Moldavia to shape the knowledge, beliefs, and ethnic
identities of these populations. For example, when Moldavia was occupied by the
Russians in 1940 following the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact in 1939, the repression against
the Romanian population was strong and immediate, and reinforced by measures meant
to change peoples opinions using any means including education. These campaigns
occurred before Vasile was born, but they affected his grandparents and parents, and
indirectly shaped his new identity. Though he does not mention this history in his


interview, many historical sources and accounts of witnesses and survivors document
state that hundreds of thousands of Romanians from the Republic of Moldavia were
deported to Siberia following the Russian occupation in 1940 10. Many of them have
starved to death, froze to death or have been killed by the Russian army.
Vasile's experience can also be interpreted through the framework of symbolic
interactionism applied to the process of identity reconstruction, Epstein (2006). Ethnicity
is one aspect of the self, and as the self is formed beginning in early childhood, figures to
which the child has strong emotional ties like parents and grandparents exert strong
influences. In Vasile's case, who was about 30 years old at the time of the interview, it is
likely that the influence of his Romanian grandparents led to his adoption of a Romanian
Epstein's (2006) example of the reviving Jewish community in Yankee City could be
partially used in cases similar to Vasile's although there was no opposition against the use
of the maternal language in Yankee City. Today, another difference is made by the advance
of media, transportation and their reduced costs, compared to the time of Epstein's study.
All these make possible better communication between the immigrants and their family
and friends, they preserve the original connections with their country of origin, and reduce
the process of acculturation. In Vasile's case, the process is somewhat different because he
and his family could not use the Romanian language in public, and de-emphasized their



Romanian identity. This changed with Vasile's immigration to the United States. Claiming
this new Romanian-Moldavian-Soviet identity was easier for Vasile who grew up in that
new society, but it was difficult for his grandparents. His Romanian or Dacian-Romanian
identity re-emerged later on, maybe as a result of the Russian-Moldavian conflict in 1990
in Transnistria or as a result of him immigrating to the United States. His identity is
probably different than his grandfather's identity due to the influences of the new
environment. In this case, it is a recreation of the Romanian or Dacian-Romanian identity
based on a double opposition: with the identity of the occupant and with the identities of
the new society of immigration. Vasile's case may differ from other cases of Romanians
who recreated a Dacian or Romanian-Dacian identity or sub-identity after they have
immigrated to countries of Western Europe or to United States. In later sections, I presented
interviews of subjects who have immigrated to Western Europe, United States or have just
visited other countries yet lived in Romania.
Adrian, a 17-year-old man from the Republic of Moldova, has a different perspective
about the Dacian identity. He is not sure if he is a Dacian or not. However, he considers it
a source for pride. He mentioned that he didn't learn about it from his parents but from
school and this is probably the case for the most Romanians and Moldavians who live in
the cities. Unlike them, people from the countryside associate some of their daily activities,
traditions, customs, dances and songs with the Dacian heritage. This is the case of Ilie, who
is from the Northern part of the country, named the area of the Free Dacians, because
they were not conquered by the Romans:
I have never been too good at history but as I know there were free Dacians who
have never been conquered, at list in my area, Maramures, in terms of personality


I believe we resemble because we are a little independent. There are all sorts of
customs, for example ploughing, seeding, Tanjaua, celebrating the first men going
bunch planting in the village, and I believe there are all very old kinds of customs
meant to create competition to make everybody participate and become as
productive as possible (Focus group 1, 2).
Similarly, Vasile mentioned he is aware that many of the traditions in Moldavia are of
Dacian origins. Ilie compared the actual Moti with the Dacians from Trajan's Column due
to their beards and the Dacian hats, stating they may or may not preserve their identity in
a European Union that standardizes and connects people with different ethnicity.
Vasile mentioned an interesting aspect of the Dacian sub-identity in Chisinau,
Moldavia: the identity reconstruction using fragments of other old civilizations with
origins that may be different from the Dacians:
There are many social networks of Dacians, especially online, there are organized
groups very interesting phenomena, and we should be studying the groups that
identify themselves as Dacians. I remember that in Chisinau there were some
strange groups that called themselves Dacians, they gathered, doing Saslac, they
party, they ate Caucasian food and drink beer (none of them traditional Dacians
drinks or foods). They connected all these in a Dacian feeling (Focus Group 1, 5).
Victor, another interviewee from the republic of Moldavia, has similar opinions to other
Moldavian interviewees, in regard to the Dacians and Dacian identity:
I dont think they have disappeared, I mean, the common sensethe Romanians
are the descendants of Dacians, the Dacians are still alive through their
descendants and . . . ok, lets say in the meantime they were subjects to different
changes, but they are still alive even in other regions of Europe (interview 1, 1).
Also, he states that: I think that I was born Romanian and Ill be always proud to be
Romanian despite the bad attitude or facts. In a way I know guys who dont like being born
Romanian, but I am proud of being Romanian(interview 1, 3). This demonstrates that both
being of Dacian ancestry and Romanian are connected and very important at least for some


of the Moldavians who consider themselves Romanians. This wasn't a focus group, it was
the first interview; thus the possibility that the Moldavian interviewee was influenced by
the Romanian respondents is excluded.
The Moldavian identity or a new Romanian-Moldavian identity would be slightly
different from the actual Romanian identity because it will have to encompass along with
the Dacian sub-identity the identities of the minorities who live in the Republic of
Moldavia, mainly Russians and Gagauzi. From this perspective, the Dacian revival
movement may have two effects in both Romania and Moldavia:
First, and authentic Dacian or Dacian-Romanian sub-identity or identity emerging from
old traditions, customs, folklore, foods, clothing, and celebrations that are common to the
Romanian ethnics (including the Moldavians). This would be a strong connector between
the Romanians and Moldavians that will help them build a common identity with the
inclusion of minorities in both Romania and the Republic of Moldavia: Russians,
Hungarians, Tigani (Gypsies) and Gagauzi (Bulgarians from Moldavia).
Second, a newly imagined community based on different, invented or borrowed
cultures and civilizations (like the groups from Chisinau, mentioned by Vasile), with
limited adherence that wouldn't be strong enough to connect the two identities: Romanian
and Moldovan, because it wouldn't include the common traditions and it wouldn't be
authentic. This would be similar to the famous invention of tradition of Eric Hobsbawn and
Terence Ranger (1983) used by the European states after the World War I to gain the lost
legitimacy. In the actual circumstances in the European Union, considering the increasing
pressure of Russia, this wouldn't be strong enough to help merge the two identities.


This comparison demonstrates the common cultural, linguistic, historical, and ethnic
heritage of the Romanians and Moldavians, the Dacian sub-identity being one of the
connectors between the two identities and a possible base for the Moldavian identity to
integrate and merge with the Romanian identity. The Dacian sub-identity could be the
starting point of a new imagined community for Moldavians and Romanians, a promoter
of the re-unification between Romania and Moldavia in one state.

9.18. Diaspora versus Homeland

As mentioned in the beginning of this analysis, people from both Romania and the
diaspora were interviewed in order to find out if there are any differences regarding their
attitude towards the Dacian sub-identity, to check if there is a revival process and to find
out what drives this process. I did five interviews in Romania with Romanian ethnics form
different areas of the country, one of them via phone. I also did two interviews in the United
States with Romanian ethnics who were just visiting this country for a short period of time,
but they live in Romania, and five interviews and two focus groups (with five and six
interviewees each) with Romanian ethnics from Romania and the Republic of Moldavia
who have immigrated to United States.
Five out of seven interviews done with Romanian ethnics who live in Romania
(including the two interviews with students visiting United States) present similar


they refer to the information received during the school years, stating the Dacians

have been conquered by the Romans and then Latinized, the culture and language being
mostly of Roman origin.
They associate the Dacian sub-identity with traditions, clothing, foods, and dances,

and sometimes with honesty and hard work as opposed to the countries where they visited
or they migrated.
For example, Costel who lived for a while in Italy and then he returned to Romania,
probably rediscovered his Dacian sub-identity through opposition with the Italian identity,
similarly to Epstein (2006:101-102): ethnic identity is . . . inner perception and outer
four out of seven interviewees state the Dacian ethnicity should be recognized

Due to the media development, people have more access to varied information and this
is one reason why the interviews of the Romanians from the diaspora are similar to those
of the ones in Romania. Another common element in this case is the education and the
traditions inherited from their grandparents in Romania. These can be applied to the
Romanians from diaspora in United States, in Europe, also to those in Romania and the
Republic of Moldavia.

9.19. The new Romanian Identity versus the Old Romanian Identity
9.19.1. Communism and freedom


Before the Revolution in December 1989, that determined the end of

Communism, Romania was a closed country, where people could not travel in or out,
could not freely express opinions, protest, take initiatives, exchange opinions with
foreigners. In short, people's freedom to choose and act was restrained. After the
Revolution the people regained their rights, they were able to express their opinions
without the fear of being imprisoned, they could travel again, and they were able to elect
their Government in a more democratic way. However, the old Communist power
structures didn't disappear, they changed quickly, showing a democratic face, and taking
over the main institutions of the state, the state owned companies, completely controlling
the political, social and economic aspects of the country. Favoring generalized corruption,
the authorities ruined most of the state companies and then sold them almost for nothing
to companies owned by relatives or friends, making huge profits. This generated high
unemployment rates, increased poverty, and as a consequence millions left the country to
work in Western European countries. In the last 25 years the Romanian society changed
radically, losing much of its young and specialized work force dealing with an increasing
number of retired people. Basically a high percentage of the Romanian population is now
made of grandparents and nephews. Many young adults have left to work outside the
country for years. The actual income in Romania is way below the European average
salary, and this is another reason why many young people intend to leave the country
once they have finished the high school. As a result the Romanian identity suffered strong
transformations, with some differences between the Romanian immigrants and those who


stayed in Romania. For those who live in Romania, the Romanian identity became in a
certain way associated with the corruption, lies, dishonesty, and lack of determination
because of the generalized political, economic and legislative corruption. This wasn't
generated only by the Romanian inner perception, but also by the outer perception of
Romania by the European countries. The result was either to blame or shame of the
Romanian identity, or a strong resurrection of the Dacian-Romanian identity.
In regard to the Romanians immigrants, the perception is a little different.
They don't generalize the blame to the whole Romanian society, but only to the corrupted
political class. However, the negative perceptions of the Romanian ethnics in Europe,
associated with the nostalgia for their idealized homeland determines some of them to
turn to the Romanian-Dacian identity or even to a pure Dacian identity, and to revive it
along with many traditions, customs, popular clothing (like the very recent successful
celebration of the Romanian Blouse) and foods.



In the beginning of this research, I stated that one possible finding will be
some groups of Romanian ethnics who live in Romania, Moldavia or in the Diaspora who
consider themselves Dacians, and inside and outside these groups there is a strong
relationship between the Romanian identity and the Dacian and Roman sub-identities,
with an increase of the Dacian sub-identity. The history sections based on interviews and
the literature review showed and confirmed the strong connection between the Romanian
identity and the Dacian and Roman sub-identities. I also found that the Dacian and
Roman sub-identities are influenced by the education, especially by the school education.
Most of the people interviewed consider themselves a mixture of Dacians, Romans and
possible other ethnics, based on their school education. However, when they discuss
tradition, folk culture, myths, songs, customs, traditional clothing and foods, most of
those I interviewed indicate these are mainly of Dacian origin. As a result, people from
the countryside, more conservative and connected to traditions and myths, have a
stronger Dacian identity or sub-identity than people from the cities, although they may
not be aware of it or that may confuse it with a local identity, for example people from Jiu
Valley, called momarlani or from Oas and Maramures regions, who consider themselves
free Dacians or the descendants of the free Dacians.


The study showed that school education is important for the identity of the
Romanian ethnics from Romania, the Republic of Moldavia and diaspora, shaping what
they believe about their own identity. From this perspectives, new scientific studies about
the Dacian history, language, identity, culture and traditions that show the Dacian
continuity and resilience after the partial Roman conquest are important for the revival of
Dacian identity. Three of the interviewees who demonstrate the strongest Dacian
identities: Maria, David and Rica have reconstructed their identities on the basis of the
customs, traditions, language, applying the new studies about Dacians, not yet officially
accepted. Unfortunately there is a gap between the official position, people's beliefs and
the new scientific proofs. For example, the government and the official history don't
recognize the existence of the Dacian communities in regions like Maramures, Oas, and
Jiu Valley, because this would determine the recognition of the Dacian continuity, of the
Dacian ethnicity and identity, changing the official history and creating similar requests
from other minorities.
Another interesting finding is the similarity of the ethnicity, language,
traditions, customs and history between the interviewees from Romania and the Republic
of Moldavia correlated with their beliefs in a common Dacian ancestry and heritage.
From this perspective the Dacian sub-identity has a cohesive role and it could be one of
the connectors between the two nations that would possibly lead to their reunification. A
potential problem here would be the one identified by Vasile, who shows that Moldavian
ethnics are split between East and West, between Romania and Russia, between the
opposing Slav identity and the Romanian identity.


It looks like the young interviewees, between 20 and 40, especially from
Transylvania region, tend to have a stronger Dacian identity or Dacian-Romanian subidentity
It looks like there is a crisis of the Romanian identity, especially for the
Romanians who immigrated to some Western European countries, mainly because of the
negative publicity made by the media and because of the name confusion between
Romanian and Romani or Gypsies and the prejudice associated with the gypsies. As a
result many Romanian immigrants in Europe either hide their identity or recreate a new
Dacian-Romanian identity.
As a result, a new identity is about to emerge, based on both Romanian
identity and Dacian sub-identity and influenced by the new studies and theories. This new
identity will reflect the new social realities in Romania and the Romanian diaspora, as
part of the European Union. The new identity is being built on genuine traditions,
customs and language, but it could also be imagined and re-imagined, using elements of
other old cultures, like in example of the Dacians from Chsinau, the Capital of the
Republic of Moldavia, given by Victor. Depending on how much popularity it will gain
in the near future, it will be a new Romanian identity, supported by a strong Dacian subidentity, or it will become a Dacian-Romanian identity that may include the Moldavian
identity and those of the national minorities.


The interview task was a little challenging, especially in the beginning because
the Romanian community in the United States is not very large, compared to the
Romanian diaspora in other European countries. This situation is generated by the
distance and by the visa requirements for the Romanians who want to travel to the United
States. Also, the population is scattered on a large territory with small communities
spread around the large metropolitan areas of New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Los
Angeles, and this made the search for potential subjects more difficult. To reach out to the
future interviewees I contacted via phone, e-mail, Skype or in person different Romanian
and American friends who lived in different cities, who were able to introduce me to
these communities, to recruit the future interviewees. I even met some future
interviewees on Facebook, through friends who were organizing protests in front of the
White House against the cyanide exploitation of an old Roman mine in Romania and I
was able to connect with them while participating to the protest.
Another challenge was determined by the fact that some of the interviews were
performed in Romania, the travel time was limited and I couldnt schedule as many
interviews as I wanted to. Also, for a better representation I should have visited and
interviewed people from most of the countrys regions, from the cities and the
countryside, in their actual environment, but I was only able to travel to Oltenia,


Moldavia and Bucharest. Nevertheless, I had the chance to meet and interview people
from other regions who were traveling and had the experience of living and working in a
foreign country.
For a better understanding of the status of the Dacian sub-identity and for a wider
variety of answers, I intended to interview people who also live in isolated villages in
Romania, who didnt have much access to the cities, to the media and werent affected by
the recent transformation of the Romanian society and the new discourses on national
identity that have proliferated recently. These populations usually live in mountain area
and I was especially interested in the ones located in the Central, Eastern and Northern
parts of the country, so called areas of the Free Dacians, because they could have
preserved old traditions, vocabulary, stories and myths related to Dacians. Unfortunately
this wasnt possible due the limited time, costs and road access. On the other hand I had
to occasion to interview people from these areas, in the United States, especially people
from Maramures region, for example Ilie and Nicole. When I did the second Focus
Group, the limitation was that I did not have the chance to interview people in their
original environments, people that have never left their native lands, in order to compare
their answers with those of the people born in the same areas, who later migrated and
lived in the United States.
For some interviews I could have used the snowball sampling technique, for
example Christines interview, in which she mentioned about her father as a potential
subject that may have a Dacian identity. She has also mentioned about the Costesti


legend, village that she visited, where people would consider themselves the guardians of
the Dacian secrets and treasures, but they wouldnt talk about that to a person that was
not initiated in their secrets. In these cases the difficulty was posed by the distance, the
time needed to travel to the location, gaining access to the specific group or to the
gatekeepers and the additional material costs determined by the travel.
In regard to the gender of the interviewees there were more men who accepted to
do the interviews than women. There were two women who actually participated in the
individual interviews, but there were at least three in each of the focus groups. This
happened mainly because women were more skeptical about giving an interview to a
stranger, and also because the main place I was recruiting interviewees in the United
States was the church, and women usually had extra duties before or after the religious
services. The Romanian Orthodox Church gathers most of the Romanian ethnics in the
United States, being the place where individuals meet regularly; it is also representative
for the population in Romania as most of them are religious and about 81% of them
declare themselves Christian Orthodox11. These communities also include Romanian
ethnics who are not religious but come to church in order to socialize and create new
connections, as a consequence, in these groups there may be a wider diversity compared
to the population in Romania, which is Christian-Orthodox in proportion of about 86%.
Some people did not want to recognize their Dacian sub-identity for different
reasons: fear of discrimination, fear to become ridiculed. It was difficult to find isolated



or closed communities that were able to keep their Dacian identity. It was a little difficult
to interview somebody from organizations like Asociatia Geto-Dacii, in English the
Getae-Dacians Association, but in the end one of its member accepted to take the
interview. Also, the data about the Dacian identity, language and culture was limited and
difficult to access, because many of the studies about Dacians can only be found in
Romania, the Dacian language is officially considered extinct and there are no new
studies available yet. Also, the interest in Dacian language and culture has been
resuscitated recently.


Informed Consent

The Remaking of the Dacian Identity in Romania and the Romanian Diaspora

This research will investigate if there is a Dacian sub-identity and if it is still alive and
relevant for the Romanians ethnics. If you agree to participate, you will be asked to
participate in a focus group or/and interview between 30 minutes and 2 hours. You will
be asked open ended questions and we will discuss about your origins, ethnicity, culture,
language, preferences, traditions, ancestors, history.
The interviews and focus groups will be audio and video recorded.
There are no foreseeable risks for participating in this research.
There are no benefits to you as a participant other than to further research in the study of
the Dacian sub-identity.
The data in this study will be confidential. For coded identifiable data like interviews and
focus group the participants name will not be included on the collected data and a code
will be placed on the collected data. Through the use of an identification key, the
researcher will be able to link the interviews and the focus group to the participant's
identity. Only the researcher will have access to the identification key. I will keep the
material for at least 3 years, in my laptop, and I will be the only person who has access to


it. Also, recordings will be erased after they are transcribed and coded, after at least 3
years, if not further needed for the research.
Although focus group participants will be asked to keep the contents of the discussion
confidential, due to the nature of a focus group, the researcher cannot control what
participants might say outside of the research setting.

Your participation is voluntary, and you may withdraw from the study at any time and for
any reason. If you decide not to participate or if you withdraw from the study, there is no
penalty or loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. There are no costs to you
or any other party.
This research is being conducted by Lucian Rosca at George Mason University. He may
be reached at 646 897 5970 for questions or to report a research-related problem. The
faculty advisor for this research is Professor Patricia Masters who may be reached at or through the Sociology department at 703 471-9830. You may
contact the George Mason University Office of Research Integrity & Assurance at 703993-4121 if you have questions or comments regarding your rights as a participant in the
This research has been reviewed according to George Mason University procedures
governing your participation in this research.
I have read this form and agree to participate in this study.
Date of Signature
Version date:


Interview Questions

The Remaking of the Dacian Identity in Romania and the Romanian Diaspora

1. Please tell me something about yourself: where you grew up, your family, (when did
you come to US? For the US interviewees), anything else that you would like to share.
2. What is your native language? Did you ever speak a Romanian dialect? How about
your parents, relatives or ancestors? Please explain.
3. What is your nationality? How about your family, relatives and ancestors?
4. How would you define Dacians in terms of language, traditions, culture, holidays,
location, and ethnicity?
5. Do you believe the Dacians have disappeared or are they an integral part of the
Romanian people?
6. How would you describe Dacians?


7. Are there any differences between Romanians and Dacians? How could you
distinguish them? Please explain.
8. If you believe the Dacians still exist, where do they live now?
9. Do you know people who consider themselves Dacians or Dacian-Romanians? What
do you think about them?
10. How are they different from the other Romanians?
11. How would you describe their traditions, language dialect, and cultural heritage?
11. Do you consider that the Dacian ethnicity should be recognized by the Romanian
Government? Why? Please explain.
12. Are the Dacians aware of their identity and origins?
13. Do you consider yourself just Dacian, Dacian-Romanian, Dacian-Roman, Romanian
as the result of the mixture between the Dacians and Romans or just Romanian? Please
14. How are all these ethnicities different?
15. Can you please name and describe some Dacian traditions?
16. Are there any Dacian traditions incorporated into the actual Romanian traditions or
religious practices? Please elaborate.
17. Did you live in other countries? Please describe that experience.


18. What do you feel about your Romanian origin?

19. What do the people from other countries believe about the Romanian ethnics?
20. Are you proud of your Dacian origin/heritage? Please explain.
21. Are you aware of how people from other countries perceive the Dacian identity?
22. Did you feel discriminated or appreciated as a Romanian ethnic? Please explain
23. How does the attitude towards the Romanian ethnics influence your Dacian identity?
24. Are there any advantages of being considered Dacians for the Romanians in the


Focus Group Questions

The Remaking of the Dacian Identity in Romania and the Romanian Diaspora

The influence of Romanian Immigration on the status of Dacian Sub-Identity in

Romania and the Romanian Diaspora, as part of the Romanian Identity.
The first Focus Group, complementary to the in-depth interviews, will help me
better answer my research questions:
(1) How is the Dacian sub-identity shaping the Romanian identity today?
(2) What is the Romanian peoples attitude about this sub-identity in the context
of massive immigration to the Western countries of the European Community and to the
United States?
It will be organized in Queens, New York in a private setting and it will include
6,7 persons, Romanian ethnics who dont know each other, men and women of different
ages and socio-professional categories, first generation immigrants to the United States.


A. Welcome.
I would like to thank you for being here today. My name is Lucian Rosca, I
will be the facilitator of this discussion. I am a graduate student at George Mason
University and this study is for my Master Thesis. I also have Paula Rosca with
me to take notes for us.
I invited you to be part of this research because you are all Romanian
nationals, first-generation immigrants and some of you may consider yourselves
successors of the ancient Dacians. This research will help me find out if the Dacian
sub-identity is still alive and the relationship with the Romanian identity in the
context of immigration. This research will also help you better understand your
identity and cultural heritage and how are these shaped when moving to a different
B. Ground rules: Before we start, I would like to mention a few ground rules for the
a. I will ask you several questions and we do not have to go in any order but we do want
everyone to be part of the discussion. Only one person should speak at a time.
b. We want to hear your opinions, there is no right or wrong answer and we want to learn
from your experience.
c. It is fine to have a different opinion than other participants, but please respect the
answers and opinions of other participants.
d. You dont have to answer questions you dont want to. Your answers are confidential.


We will not ask for anything that could identify you and we will only use first names
during the discussion. We also ask you to respect the privacy of everyone in the room and
not share or repeat what is said here in any way that could identify anyone present in this
f. We will tape recording the discussion and we will also take notes because we dont
want to miss any of your comments. Once we start the tape recorder we will not use
anyones full name and we ask that you do the same. Is everyone ok with this session
being tape recorded? (I will get the verbal consent).
We will not include your names or any other information that could identify you
in any notes or reports we will write. We are going to destroy the notes and audiotapes
after we will finish this study.
h. The discussion is going to take about two hours and we will like you to stay until the
end of the interview.
Do you have any questions before we start?
C. Introductions: I will ask everyone to introduce himself/herself to mention the
place of birth and to tell us a little bit about you. (5 minutes, I will start recording)
D. Group Discussion, Topic 1 (20 minutes)
1. Please tell us about the region where you were born, your native language, ethnicity, traditions and culture.
a. Probe: What is your native language? Have you ever spoken a Romanian dialect? How about your parents, relatives or ancestors? Please explain.


b. Probe: What is your nationality? How about your family, relatives and ancestors?
c. Probe: How would you define Dacians in terms of language, traditions, culture, holidays, location, and ethnicity?
2. Do you believe the Dacians have disappeared or are they an integral part of the
Romanian people?
a. Probe: Are there any differences between Romanians and Dacians? How
could you distinguish them? Please explain.
b. Probe: If you believe the Dacians still exist, how would you describe the contemporary Dacians?
c. Probe: Do you know people who consider themselves Dacians or Dacian-Romanians? What do you think about them?
d. Probe: How would you describe their traditions, language dialect, and cultural

E. Group Discussion, Topic 2 (20 minutes)

3. I would like to discuss about the Dacian identity awareness and recognition.
a. Probe: Are the Dacians aware of their identity and origins?
b. Probe: Do you consider yourself just Dacian, Daco-Romanian, Daco-Roman,
Romanian as the result of the mixture between the Dacians and Romans or
just Romanian? Please explain.
c. Probe: How are all these ethnicities different?


d. Probe: Can you please name and describe some Dacian traditions?
e. Probe: Are there any Dacian traditions incorporated into the actual Romanian
traditions or religious practices? Please elaborate.
f. Probe: Do you consider that the Dacian ethnicity should be recognized by the
Romanian Government? Why? Please explain.
F. Group Discussion, Topic 2 (25 minutes)
4. Romanian immigrants experience and the Dacian sub-identity.
a. Probe: Have you ever lived in other countries? Please describe that experience.
b. Probe: What do you feel about your Romanian origin?
c. Probe: What do the people from other countries believe about the Romanian
d. Probe: Are you proud of your Dacian origin/heritage? Please explain.
e. Probe: Are you aware of how people from other countries perceive the Dacian
f. Probe: Have you ever felt discriminated or appreciated as a Romanian ethnic?
Please explain.
g. Probe: How does the attitude towards the Romanian ethnics influence your
identity? (is it a refugee against discrimination?)


h. Probe: Do you know any Diaspora Romanians who consider themselves Dacians? Please describe them. Please describe their attitude towards the other Romanian ethnics.

Probe: Are there any advantages of being considered Dacians for the Romanians in the Diaspora?

G. Final Thoughts (5 minutes)

5. Does anyone have any final thoughts about the Dacian sub-identity that they havent shared yet?
H. Review, end of the interview.
Thank you for participating today and for sharing your opinions and
experience with us. We hope you enjoyed our discussion!



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Lucian I. Rosca graduated from Alexandru Lahovari High School, Ramnicu Valcea, Romania, in 1998. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of
Bucharest in 2004. He was employed as Customer Value Representative in Herndon for
three years and started a Master of Arts in Sociology at George Mason University in